By A student, a beautiful human, a mother of a child with cystic fibrosis
As a Mum of two children, one of whom has Cystic Fibrosis, my body, mind and emotions are constantly under pressure. I used to jog to relieve that pressure, but it never suited my body. I ended up injuring myself but my mood got very low when I had to stop – I missed the mental space and release of bad vibes that exercise brought.
When I finally found yoga, it was like a blissful reawakening of my sanity. My incredibly tight hips started to relax a little, my back pain began to melt away and the intense anxiety I stifled on a daily basis around my daughter’s health started to feel a little more manageable. I struggled to find the time to get to a class (my daughter’s daily schedule is intense, on top of the normal commitments of work, school, kids’ activities and the rest), but when I did, I knew it was saving me. I was a better person when I managed to find that time for myself. I loved the focus that the classes brought out in me. A focus on something other than CF, for a beautiful, fleeting moment.
But just as I was getting in my stride and reaping the benefits, my daughter’s health took a difficult turn. She had gotten through the depths of winter with relative ease, then the spell ended and boom; it was one thing after another. A 2 week course of IV antibiotics, followed by a nasty virus which led to her first ambulance ride and another 2 weeks of IV antibiotics, less than 2 weeks after the previous ones had finished. It took 3 months before she got back to herself. Even when feeling ok she was having almost daily bronchospasms and I was afraid to leave her for 5 minutes, let alone for a class. I knew I wouldn’t relax away from her until we came out the other side.
People say you have to make time for yourself, and they’re right. But there are times when making time for yourself doesn’t feel right, because you’re in protector mode, searching for a solution for your child, asking questions of your care team, trying different approaches, different nebuliser schedules, making a diary of the response to everything you try. This is where your animal instincts come out – you protect your cub, everything else can wait. You can’t see past this problem. You are focussed and for all the right reasons.
I missed yoga and desperately missed the calmness it brought to my mind, but what I needed was for my daughter to get back to her steady self. I knew that if her health steadied, I could get back to looking after my own.
My girl and I did some Cosmic Kids yoga videos together while trying to work things out and that bond of yoga-ing together was incredibly therapeutic. I was in awe of her flexibility, she admired my balance. We built each other up with kindness and encouragement.
When balance was restored to her health, I started finding my way back to class and rediscovering how much better I felt for that connection time. Sure, a load of the gains I had made were gone. I was stiffer and had to work hard to stay present for the first few sessions. But I was there, I was doing it and the benefits were instant. I may have felt like I was starting over, but I wasn’t. After a few sessions my body remembered the groove. It knew what it could do and what it shouldn’t. When to challenge itself and when to hold back. Different limits for different days. I remembered how to listen to it.
The beautiful thing about your yoga mat is that it doesn’t judge you. It doesn’t care if you have no balance or are the strongest tree in the studio forest. It doesn’t care if your aeroplane glides or crashes. It doesn’t mind if you push yourself for the bind or stay in your first position. It just cares that you roll it out and give yourself that little rectangle of safe space. Space to think, to breathe, to stretch, to engage your muscles and your mind. Space to just be.
If you ever find yourself falling off your yoga mat, don’t stress. You’ll never fall far and you’ll always be able to climb back on. Your mat is there waiting for you, patiently and positively. The next day, the next week, the next month. The next time you need it. Whenever that may be. You’ll know when the time is right.