In Real Life: Resilience
By Wendy Wood
Yoga was the air I breathed and the food I ate; until it wasn’t. A back injury came between my yoga-yes and my yoga-no status. When practicing yoga was no longer an option for me, I was left with a shattered self-image and a directionless routine. If I didn’t practice yoga, who was I? As it turned out, the gift of yoga and the gift of no-yoga were equal. This is my story of the latter.
When I could no longer practice yoga physically, I was left at an impasse: Either I could mourn the loss or I could use the experience as fodder for further growth and achievement. I chose the second option.
This was not easy and it was a long process. I can tell you from the other side of that experience, that re-anchoring, literally finding new footing, became a source of deep satisfaction and joy.
I had to regroup and think about the meaning of the yoga experience first. Extracting the information that I enjoyed yoga for both the physical and mental challenge, and for the structure it offered my body and my mind, gave me a starting point for a new physical pursuit. I turned what I deeply enjoyed about my yoga routine into a new experience: I became a distance walker.
We often think of resilience as the ability to stabilize after a de-stabilizing event.
Destabilization occurs frequently, but has been never more prevalent than the tumultuous times we are in at the moment. I see this daily as I coach my participants. Let me tell you about one in particular:
Emma was a dedicated college professor and equally dedicated to her daily, vigorous, gym experience. She did cardio on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. She did strength training Tuesdays and Thursdays. She did stretching classes on the weekends. Her gym life was the happiest part of her life. Emma enjoyed the friends she made in these classes, the physical exertion, as well as the structure it provided her each day.
COVID-19 shut all of this down for her. She took it quite personally. She felt disconnected from others as well as disconnected from the life she carved out for herself.
In coaching her, I helped her break down the important aspects of her gym life: social, physical, structural. Together we created new options that would share aspects of her previous work-out experience. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t a direct replacement, but, it would bide time until more options would become available. I helped Emma create a routine that included online videos, outdoor walks and light jogs, and, for socializing, regular face-to-face zoom meetings with people she loved.
Emma haltingly and then whole-heartedly embraced this “make-do” routine. Her stress decreased and her equilibrium increased. I am happy to say that Emma is now able to re-join her gym classes!
Her gym set up socially distant outside classes. In fact, Emma acted as an ambassador to other gym members, inviting them to partake in this new version of working out.
Emma resisted and then engaged in resilient behavior.
Being a resilient person means that we understand when we fall apart, we have the option to challenge ourselves to build back up in a stronger way. Overcoming obstacles, re-balancing after a de-balancing event, gives us an internal GPS for future adaptations. Resilience is, truly, the gift that keeps on giving.