Running and yoga: my new self-care routine

Every Monday and Friday, I grab my gym bag and head out of the office.  I walk across the parking lot to our on site fitness center.  The smell of feet and sweat assaults my nostrils as I enter the locker room.  I quickly change and head outside into the warmth and humidity of the midday sun.  I started back up running consistently about three and a half weeks ago because I realized that I was a mere six weeks away from participating in my first 5K run, the Dirty Girl Mud run here in Wisconsin.

I run to clear the racing thoughts in my head.  I run to quiet that fight or flight response which is marked in me only by flight.  I literally run away from my feelings and emotions.  I sweat the anger, the fear, the self-loathing and the perfectionism out of my system.  I run to keep the insomnia, anxiety and depression at bay.  I run and walk for about thirty minutes.  When I finish, I look as red in the face as a cherry tomato.  I normally thrive in the company of others, but running is a solitary activity for me for now.  I need this centering and regrouping. 

Every Wednesday, I head over to the same fitness center for my forty-five minute yoga class.  I have practiced yoga on and off for nine years.  I anticipated that this hatha yoga class might be a bit easier for me since it was not the full hour class.  I could not have been more wrong.  Our instructor challenges us weekly with different poses.  She has us set an intention for each practice.  Every week, my intention is the same: to be calm and free from anxiety.  For that blissful forty-five minutes, I effectively shut off my brain and just listen to my teacher and my body.  I can feel myself growing stronger and more flexible with each successive class.

My progress is slow in terms of endurance, fitness, muscle tone and weight loss, but a dear friend reminded me that slow and steady is healthy.  I lost weight too quickly after I gave birth to Skeeter all due to my anxiety.  I was literally pulsing with this nervous energy.  I could not sit still.  Once I began to wean her, the pounds slowly crept on without me noticing.  Now I learn to trust my physical body again and to trust its responses.  When I am feeling stressed out, I now recognize that I need to do something physical to help work out my feelings and emotions.  As I run and practice yoga, I see that beast of anxiety and depression sitting in the corner.  I stare at it, determined to not let it beat me.  I am strong and brave.  I survived PPD and PPA, and I will not let this current anxiety beat me down into submission.  I am choosing to use my talents and my abilities to work myself towards better mental, physical and emotional health.

About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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10 Responses to Running and yoga: my new self-care routine

  1. mammacockatoo says:

    I love this, and I’m so proud of you. I’m so glad you’re finding the right fit for you, and you’re staring down that beast in the corner. It doesn’t stand a chance, because you’re working to be so much stronger than it can ever be.

    • Thank you so much for all your support Margaret. I am going to keep staring that beast down. I hope to start working out more frequently once I am done with the race to keep challenging myself. It’s amazing to me how connected our physical body is to our emotional and mental health.

  2. Laura says:

    Running and yoga!!!! Aaaah!! A girl after my own heart! (can you tell from this comment that I used to be a cheerleader? Sorry about getting a little overly excited there.) Running is the one time I’m usually able to block out the anxiety. You’re going to love the 5K! I can’t wait!

    Also, it sounds like you have the exact right attitude about your progress. You don’t want exercise to turn into one more thing with expectations. Just do what feels right.

    • I used to be in pom poms. I welcome the enthusiasm, Laura. Both running and yoga are the only times that I can truly block out the anxiety. I am very excited about the 5K, especially since I am running with my cousin. I will have one friendly face to run with.

      I am trying to keep my expectations reasonable. I would love to see results right away, but I know that slow and steady is the right way to make progress. I am really looking forward to getting back into shape and eventually trying out some different classes at our onsite fitness center.

      • Laura says:

        How cool that you were a pom! I know it’s so hard not to see results quickly. That’s a constant struggle for me. I’m still so much slower than I was before I got pregnant. I’m having to exercise some serious patience to keep from over doing it. I’m confident we’ll both reach our goals though…in time. I really am excited for you and can’t wait to hear about the 5K!

      • Now that I am twelve days away from the race, the excitement is mixing in with the fear. Last night was not a good night for sleep, so I am dragging today. I don’t know if I will run, but I will at least walk briskly. I just need to get outside.

  3. Good for you! I’ve started running again, too. I didn’t know there was a Dirty Girl Mud Run in WI! That sounds so fun.

    • It’s in Waukesha at the Expo Center. This is the second year that the Dirty Girl Mud Run is being held in Wisconsin. So glad you’re taking up running again too. It makes me feel so much better.

  4. Lisa says:

    I’m finally catching up on all my blog reading. Running is a great way to get rid of all that you listed in your post. If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, we should go for a run together but don’t expect me to talk because I can barely breathe when I run🙂 Good luck again for the 5km.

    • Lisa, Australia is on my bucket list of countries to visit. If I am in Melbourne, we should definitely go for a run together. We can chat after the run. I can only talk while walking, not running.

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