I’ve had a bit of a rough time lately. I injured my leg in a Master Class a couple months back and decided to stay away from the studio until it healed enough to put my weight back on it. Unfortunately, as soon as I got to that point… I crashed my car. My first car. That I’ve had for less than a year. “Devastated” would be an understatement. Also an understatement: “mortified and ashamed.” I went camping with some friends and whilst driving on a gravel road for the first time, I braked just slightly too hard and lost control. I went into a spin, slammed into an embankment and wrote my poor little Polo off.
Luckily (thank god!) there were no other cars involved and nobody sitting in my car, and yet I wasn’t alone: I had friends nearby to help me. I wasn’t seriously injured, but I was bruised, battered and suffering from a hell of a case of whiplash. Once again, yoga was put on hold until I got some range of motion back in my neck. Although I know that Bikram would have helped me heal quicker… when moving my head a centimetre in any direction was cause for pained yelps and insta-tears, just the thought of Pranayama breathing was enough to make me hyperventilate.
Around this time, there was what seemed like an endless list of things in my life that weren’t going to plan. But to avoid drawing the pity party out any further, I’ll just hit the most pertinent point: right around the time my neck finally healed, I ended up in hospital with what my doctor referred to as “super bad bronchitis.” And then my bronchitis meds interacted with my whiplash meds in a really super bad way. Which wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had.
You’re getting the picture, right? It was a two month period where pretty much everything – big and small, personal and professional – felt like it was going wrong. And not only was my life collapsing, it was doing so in a way that prevented me from attending class, that was keeping me away from Bikram – the one thing I’ve come to rely on to help me through dark times.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, instead of getting frustrated and upset and angry… I just waited. And waited. And waited. I took my medicine and I did my exercises and I waited. And yesterday my leg was strong and my neck could move and my lungs were clear and I went back to class.
And it was glorious.
I think one of the greatest things I’ve learnt through Bikram is some semblance of patience. I’ve never been a fan of delayed gratification – if I want it, then I want it all and I want it now. I’ve always been the type to download a new television series and watch the entire thing in one sleepless weekend; the person who decides at midnight that I want ice-cream, immediately walks to the supermarket to buy a punnet, and gorges myself on the entire thing before rolling uneasily into bed. But that doesn’t work well with yoga. It doesn’t matter how much you want that perfect Standing Head to Knee, it’s just not going to happen without putting in years of boundless effort.
And so over the past two years, this impatience of mine has become a much less visceral desire. Sure, if there’s something I want then I would prefer to have it now. But if I can’t, then that’s okay. And if I do have to wait, I can do so without becoming frustrated and anxious. I put in the effort that I can, and then I just wait. And I’m okay with that.
Perhaps the word I’m looking for isn’t patience, exactly, but acceptance. And I’m so very grateful that I found it.