• Kathleen

A New Adventure

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

How do I start a blog post about the opportunities and silver linings I’ve found in COVID-19 when so many people are experiencing severe hardships due to the pandemic? I acknowledge that I am experiencing the pandemic from a privileged place: my partner and I both have (reasonably) secure jobs that can easily be done from home. We live in a community where we can go for a solo walk in the woods without driving anywhere. Our province has some of the lowest case counts in the western world. While our social life has slowed down, our world really hasn’t been flipped upside down. I know that this is not the reality for many, and my heart goes out to everyone facing challenges due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

It is actually the lockdowns that created the silver linings for me. While my favourite activities – climbing and skiing with friends – were strongly discouraged, I needed to find new ways to occupy myself while maintain appropriate physical distancing. Walking and running close to home were still acceptable, so my dog and I began solo explorations of the local trail network, discovering some fantastic trails and viewpoints in the process. It was so wonderful to share these discoveries with friends once physically-distanced outdoor socializing became acceptable.

The shiniest silver lining however was finding the space and inspiration to start a daily yoga practice. While running and walking got me out into nature, I was craving the full-body movement I typically get from climbing. The short home workouts I was doing didn’t quite cut it. My body felt tight and restricted, so one day I did a yoga practice with Adriene on YouTube. A few days later I did another. A few sessions later, I set the intention to do yoga every day for a month. I’m now almost two months in and loving it.

The physical benefits have been minor, but definitely there. I feel better in my body – a sense of ease and being able to move freely has replaced that tight, restricted felling. My jaw is more relaxed. My posture is improving (I think). My flexibility has improved, at least a little bit.

What I really love though is the shift in my mental outlook. The first change I noticed was my willingness to let go of anger and frustration. In British Columbia we had guidelines for our behaviour, as opposed to strict lockdowns. Naturally, people interpreted these guidelines differently, and I would occasionally run into people doing things I wanted to be doing – like climbing. In the past I would have reacted with FOMO and internal frustration. This year, I realized that holding onto the FOMO and frustration would have zero effect on the people I observed, but would ruin my day. I realized that I had the power to let those emotions go.

This benefit, of being able to observe and let go of my emotions, has flowed over into rock climbing. I have always loved climbing because it forces you to be present. When you are climbing, it’s just you, your emotions and the rock. Once climbing became acceptable again and I was back on the rock, I realized that I was calmer and more centered. Rather than moving through fear and anxiety, I was able to let them go. It doesn’t happen every climb. There are definitely some climbs still where I feel stuck, hesitant, afraid. What’s changed is how often I’m able to experience that sense of flow and ease.

These observations have renewed my curiosity in the psychology of performance - not just in sport, but in all aspects of life. I am curious and excited to observe the ongoing benefits as I continue my yoga journey.