What Does Healthy Is Hot Mean When You're Not 'Healthy'?
Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that would forever impact the way I moved and perceived my body. As someone who was lovingly known as a jack-in-the-box who could barely sit still at her desk for more than 30 minutes at a time, I didn’t take the news well. In fact, if I’m being honest, I did everything I could to pretend I wasn’t sick at all.
I had just finished university, landed my first grown-up job in PR, and had finally found a workout routine that worked for me; there was no way I was going to admit defeat. I did everything I could to ignore my illness and for years didn’t take my diagnosis anywhere near as seriously as I should have. I pushed myself constantly, rarely listening to my body or mind when I knew it needed rest. You see, it’s much easier to pretend you’re just like everyone else than it is to admit you have a disease that can make going downstairs, using a pen, or zipping up your dress a struggle.
All I wanted was for things to be the same as before. To not be in pain. To stop feeling anxious. To go back to the gym. To start running again. And to stop losing my mind. I needed to de-stress, which had become very clear to those around me.
Thankfully, a friend of mine encouraged me to give Moksha (hot yoga) a try. She insisted that it was an amazing workout and one that wouldn’t hurt my joints. To say I was skeptical that the workout would be as good as running would have been an understatement. But as scared as I was, my determination to get back to a positive mental and physical state eventually won out.
Did I fall in love with Moksha after the first class? No. But I will say, after three classes or so, I was hooked. Not only was it an amazing physical workout, but a mental one too, that allowed me to completely disconnect for 60-90 minutes. It was there, in that room, on my mat, where I learned to love and appreciate my body again. I slowly grew to accept that there were going to be days where I wouldn’t be able to do certain postures the way I wanted to and that there would be times where the only pose I’d be going into was Shavasana. Learning to let go, and not be embarrassed when my body worked against me helped me embrace the moments where movement felt effortless.
Understanding your body – and most importantly forgiving it, is at the core of learning to live with any disability. If I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that hiding from your ailments will only hurt you more. It takes time. But, once you’re ready to accept your diagnosis, and surround yourself with a tribe of people willing to support you, balance you, and work with you to make your goals realities, things do start to get better.
Healthy is hot, is whatever you make of it. Just because yoga worked for me, doesn’t mean it will for you. Everyone and every body are different. What’s important to remember, is that you are not your illness, your anxiety or your fear. Whether you walk 30 minutes each day, do a class once every few days, or have a weekly dance party in your living room, by getting out, getting sweaty and clearing your head, you will start to feel better.