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For the longest time during my running career, I really did subscribe to the notion that "pain is weakness leaving the body." If I decided to take a weekend off, or decided not to run a race, the decision was attended by guilt and shame and a full belief that my fellow runners were judging me as lazy or weak (or gulp, not worth their friendship!).
It's easy to intellectually know that is not true. But old habits die hard, and there's a competitive devil inside me that thinks it knows what's best, and still fills me with the belief that I need to "Just Do It," or that I need to do it better.
It's daunting how often I see posts on Facebook from people inferring that just showing up to a race and running it, no matter whether you're physically prepared, is the most important thing: a badge of honor, a sign of bravery, a line in the sand saying, "I will not let my fear of being undertrained stop me today!"
As hard as it is to admit, my ego has gotten the best of me in my yoga practice. During the past year, I yogi'ed myself into a painful Baker's Cyst on the back of my knee that curtailed my running down to zilch. I did this to myself, because I perceived everyone else was doing a particular pose with ease, and so I ignored the warning signs that the particular pose was not for me, not at least at that particular point in time. (The pose itself doesn't matter, and I don't want to vilify any one pose, because it is so dependent on the person and what is going on in their body, on that day, or during that point in their life.)
So, I'm coming back from knee injury, following the "ten percent rule," and in my yoga practice (for myself and my students), trying to be very mindful about not listening to that ego on my shoulder. I'm working on paying attention to the language I use in cueing, so that when I offer the "full expression" of a pose, I'm not offering it as a challenge to be met, but just an alternative shape of the pose that might be fun, if their body is feeling it on that day.
The point of this? True attention to and awareness of our bodies is hard, it's really hard. It's so easy to give lip service to "listen to your body," and "pay attention to how you move in your daily life," but it's really hard to do in practice. But it's something I am working on, and bit-by-bit I see my awareness coming to the forefront. And I am saying this years after posture and body awareness even became a consideration for me; so, I still have a long way to go. And my hope is that bit-by-bit, I am able to drop in little proprioception cues that students will take with them, maybe bubbling to the surface long after class is over.
And, older, injury-weary, and wiser, I know that no one is going to notice, let alone judge when I don't show up to a race, or can't do a pose; which is really a nice place to be, keeping that devilish ego at bay. So, here, on this fine Saturday morning, instead of running up Mat Peak, here I sit enjoying a very nice cup of coffee. It is what I need to JUST DO.