Yoga Week Two: When Yoga is Only Part of the Big Picture

Sunwash, Doriane Raiman

“Take the antibiotics and get some rest,” the young intern told me.

“Take it easy,” said the couple of friends who checked in on me every day.

“No worries. Take care and see you next week,” my yoga instructor emailed.

I was looking for permission to go to my second yoga class all week. Surely someone would tell me all of that breathing and stretching would be good for me. But despite my quiet pleas for approval, the answer was apparently “no.”

Or “YOU SHOULD BE RESTING,” as my friend Mary Anne reminded me several times a day.

Going into this experience of yoga, I expected one of the lessons to be “listen to your body.” I just did not expect the lesson to mean “listen to your body when it tosses you on your ass for a week with strep throat and a roaring fever.”

This listening to my body concept is fairly new for me — about five years new. Before that, my body was only that thing connected to my busy-brain that needed things like food and sleep and a chiropractor. I existed, as far as I knew, in my head — where I worked and wrote and thought and dreamed.

I did not exist in that place where I danced and walked and ran and jumped, because, for the most part, I never danced or walked and ran or jumped. It just wasn’t in my nature. My nature, I thought, was to be a writer, a poet, an artist of some stationary sort. Movement — especially of the physical activity exercise kind — was an afterthought, something I had to do if I had time to do later, when I wasn’t working, writing, thinking, dreaming.

That all changed in 2006, when some health issues caused me to look long and hard at my diet, my lifestyle, and my movement habits — or lack thereof. The body, it turns out, likes to move. Movement can unkink those muscles and sore spots. It helps bones get stronger. Movement pushes toxins out of the body and helps maintain a healthy weight. Even a busy-brain likes when the body moves — it quiets down, recharges, refocuses.

I know all of that now — now that I go the gym often, enjoy two-mile walks, and wander in the woods for hours.

“But why would my body give me strep throat?” I kept wondering.

And then I was emailing a friend about some things. You know, those things you fester on sometimes? Those thoughts that go round and round in your head, and those same words that keep coming out of your mouth over and over again?

“Delete. Delete. Delete,” I typed. “Nevermind, I’m so sick of talking about this.”

“Literally,” she responded. “Your sweet little body has always been very good at manifesting these things for you.”

Indeed it has.

So, in Yoga Week Two, it turns out yoga is only part of the big picture of being healthy. This week, it’s about letting go, and listening to my body, and allowing things to REST.

• • •

Photo: Sunwash ©2011 Doriane Raiman, reprinted with permission (thank you!). For more fascinating images, please visit: or

Yoga Week One: It Will Come
Yoga Week Two: When Yoga is Only Part of the Big Picture
Yoga Week Three: Applying Stillness
Yoga Week Four: Still There is Joy
Yoga Week Five: Loving Kindness
Yoga Week Six: In Your Bones

4 thoughts on “Yoga Week Two: When Yoga is Only Part of the Big Picture

Add yours

  1. I like slogans a lot.
    They’re simple (if not simple-minded, but it works for me).
    Easy to remember at the time you need them.
    Good focus points.
    So here’s my slogan-gift for you today:

    Easy does it.

    Hot tea. Chicken soup. Yogurt. LOTS of naps.

    Easy does it.

  2. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me I needed to rest. Four years ago, I started listening and my life has been a lot better for it. Your body really does know what its talking about! When I learned to stop fighting it and pushing it do more than anyone should, my body started to love me back with a lot more energy. :-)

    Keep resting and feel better soon!

    1. I hear you! A friend of mine talks often about keeping the Sabbath – and I try so hard to set aside at least one day for rest. It’s difficult – especially when I find so much pleasure in my work and writing. But – as I’m sure you know – there is also pleasure in resting! THAT I’m learning first-hand this week!

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