Its Valentine’s day.  I’m 29.  Single…and look like satan:

But beyond the devil horns protruding from my head there’s a smile.  Yes, that’s right!  The smile of a girl who’s just slept 8 hours, straight through the night, not a single trip to the toilet to wring myself, or the fever-drenched sheets, out.

Its Valentine’s day.  I’m 29.  Single…and happy.

I’ve been treating my recovery, much like I’ve been treating my yoga…slowly, slowly…no need to rush.  I first turned the corner yesterday and somehow, with my new-found Jedi-patience, avoided the temptation to steam roll ahead, gorging myself with every piece of food I could get my hands on, and going on athletic adventures to the end of the earth…Instead, I spent a leisurely day with my own company, eating bananas, and dried oatmeal cereal.  I’m not going to lie, it was fucking boring.  But as the hours rolled over each other, and my concerns over being lazy and uncultured subsided, I found myself rather enjoying the day to myself, and even established a bit of a going-to-bed ritual: tidy up, shower, lather myself in coconut oil, clean my teeth, and then just lie on the bed like a star-fish in silence and watch the fan rotate, listening to the biker gang’s japes outside my window.

When we had our post-practice discussion with Radha and Prem last Thursday, we talked mostly about balance, and in that came rituals.  We have a morning – shit, shower, shave – ritual, and its important to us, sets the tone for the day, so why not a going to bed ritual too?  At home I usually fall asleep to the sound of some crap on the TV, cup of tea spilling over me.

Why?  Because life is exhausting.  How many work/life balance objectives have you discussed with your manager, only to discard them by your 10 o clock coffee run?  How many painful training days have you sat through with those softly spoken mediators discussing work/life balance and prioritization from a “holistic” point of view, not a career one, only to have them turn round half-way through and say, no, of course this is for work, that’s why we’re here isn’t it?

How disappointing.  My training day was in the Spring last year.  It was the tipping point, the moment in time when I realised that in order to find true balance, it was a much deeper and spiritual process than labelling your emails with “For Action” or whatever other useless tricks we had scrawled on a post-it on the wall, above the tray of cookies and empty coffee mugs.

Prem says that our priorities should be as follows:

1) Spiritual practice

2) Health

3) Family

4) Work

I bet 90% of us live by that in reverse.   I think each person must have a spirituality of sorts.  A something that they can call their own. A time when they contemplate, meditate, whatever, just let everything go still for a moment and be with themselves.  Walking the dog, going for a run, staring out the window and daydreaming with a smile.  Knitting a jumper, cooking a meal, a soak in the bath, playing guitar – it doesn’t matter.  I guess I’m coming round to the realisation that mine is yoga.

I first recognised it as such back in March last year.  I was running, cycling, swimming, going to led yoga classes pretty much every day of the week.  Writing most evenings and lunch-breaks, working hard at Oxfam, losing sight of my friends.  There were times when I’d break into these moments of inner-peace….maybe 5 miles into a Sunday run, or lap 23 in the pool…but then I got injured and everything stopped so suddenly, and I was left with this hunger, this insatiable hunger for something.

Like walking around a food store after an illness and trying to listen to what your body needs….mine wanted restorative yoga.  I wanted the hippy, meditative stuff I was so used to discarding, and so I listened to my body, signed up to Jeremy’s class on Sunday’s, and gradually, as my other physical obligations began to fade (i hardly ever run anymore) my yoga has evolved and developed, and is beginning to take root.  Unlike most people, it was the spiritual that drew me in….and the physical, and emotional is starting to follow.

I guess I’m starting to put Prem’s priority list into practice.  My spirituality is my yoga.  I continued going to class when I was sick.  It was good for me.  I shed my karate-kid frustrations, and just focused on being on the mat.  I did my practice, at about 30%, taking it slow, and just breathing.  3 days of that, one rest day, and one day lady’s holiday (yes – we have lady’s holiday!)  and everything that was out of balance and causing me grief, has suddenly begun to settle.

My hips have opened, core strength is good, I don’t need to take extra breaths in Suryanamaskara B anymore, and today I completed Janu Sirsasana A, B and C.  Look at that:  page one of my Ashtanga Primary Series complete.

In a sort of quiet, round about way, through illness and taking my practice slowly, I’ve made a massive breakthrough, and it feels wonderful.  It really does.

It’s the ground work that’s so important.  Taking that time, however long that may be.  Listening to your inner voice, and I mean really listening to it, not the booming ego on top of it telling you you’re rubbish and slow and need to get on…

Once you get the groundwork in, the spiritual practice, health follows suit…and then you can be there for your friends and family, and I mean really be there….and then work.  Then work!