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Honoring Your Limits

For nearly a decade I've been passionately preaching to my students, peers, and teacher trainees to "listen to your body." If you have been to one of my presentations, and managed to stay awake for the first 30 minutes, you've hear me try to convince all the Type-A's (and, well, everyone else too) that it's better to back off than to hurt yourself.

I believe this message wholeheartedly and never once have I had even the slightest inkling of a negative thought or judgement when my students have exercised their own self-care. In fact, I strongly encourage this kind of decision making in my students!

And yet... I may be the one that's needed this message the most.

I'll push and I'll go and I'll grit my teeth and push some more. I'm that Type-A girl in the front row of every workout that is competing with herself every second. Pushing harder than last time and analyzing her form in every motion. The whole time, beating myself up if I feel tired or weak.

Tonight, I swallowed my own pill and I have to tell you, once I got past the guilt, it kind of feels amazing. So amazing, that I had to immediately sit down and write this (no, really, I haven't even showered yet - ew!).

Let me provide some context: I had two wisdom teeth removed just over a week ago and while it was a smooth procedure, I have had some complications during the healing process. Still, I went to class tonight- 10 days post-op - determined to start getting back into my fitness routine. I was a little apprehensive about my ability to participate at my best so I made a pact with myself that if I started to have issues, I would modify, stop or even leave if it came down to it.

This pact is easy to make when you've never walked away from a challenge before and you're pretty sure you can push your way through like you've always done. I admit that I was willing to modify and take breaks as needed, but wasn't going to flat out leave - no way. Never.

Things were going fairly well for the first 15 minutes. I was modifying as needed, took a couple short rests and then popped right back into the flow. Once we got to around the 25-30 minute mark I simply could not shake the dizziness. I walked out of the room to grab some air and spent a minute wrestling my own demons: What will everyone think? How have I gotten so weak? There's only 25 minutes left, are you really going to leave?

I came back in and tried to hang; but, the disorientation and nausea simply became too much. I felt defeated. I rolled up my mat and walked out after 35 minutes of class.

I cried on the drive home- not for any physical reason, but because I was ashamed. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let everyone down, including myself. But, the other voice inside me knew I had done the right thing for my body in that moment. And, for this time in my life, it was the right thing emotionally too.

So, here it is.... Tonight, I recognized that I have limits (GASP!) and I honored them. There is no shame, no judgement, and no guilt in having walked out, because the alternative is that I compromise my body's ability to heal, or worse, make myself ill.

I wonder how many of my students feel they can't stop when it's imperative to their health, even though I offer all the encouragement to know their limits and make healthy choices.

Picking up my mat in the middle of class is one of the hardest things I've done in a long time, but there was a lot of growth in that moment. So, while as an instructor you hear me telling you it's ok to modify, rest when you need it, or stop if it becomes necessary, know that I mean it and I know it's hard. What's harder is hurting yourself because of pride.

The limits in me, honor and celebrate the limits in you. Namaste.

#lifelessons #Inspiration #encouragement


©2020 by Kristin Benton.

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