Sometimes You Need Gentle Yoga But Sometimes You Need Beer. And Sometimes, You Need Both

(image by Chris Costes, via Flickr)

I was sick recently because of course I was. I’m allergic to everything (except food, thank god) and when I let my allergies go unchecked (which I always do), I turn into a sniveling, sneezing, snotting, coughing mess. For, like, ever.

During this most recent bout of sickness, I happened to be reading Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct at the recommendation of a client. In it, she wrote about how the energy we expend exercising willpower is easily depleted, and she proceeded to list out the various ways there were for keeping one’s energy up: slowing down your breath; spending time outdoors; exercising; getting more sleep; eating well; and even engaging in meditation to relax.

You know. All the usual suspects.

Otherwise, we can easily fall into this downward spiral where we’re low-energy so we make unhealthy choices so we become more low-energy so we make more unhealthy choices and, well, now you understand how I sometimes end up hiding in a locked room with my daughter’s goldfish crackers, getting nothing done.

This is a concept I’ve always understood at a subconscious level. It’s why I set the intention to “make healthy choices” at the beginning of every yoga class I take.

But while sometimes I fulfill that intention, many times I don’t.

Still, at the ripe old age of almost-37, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I understand that continuing to make unhealthy choices only ensures that I end up choking on my own snot more nights in a row. So aside from attending my weekly self-defense class (all of that shouting only made my sore throat worse), I took it easy.

Which meant skipping my usual, twice-weekly yoga class.

Which also meant losing both my mind and my flexibility.

Until I made the time for myself to do some gentle yoga at home. Without my daughter hovering nearby and/or using me as a jungle gym. Small movements that allowed me to loosen up my body, to focus on my breath, and to quiet my mind. As someone who’s so often focused on making other people happy (whether as a freelancer or a mother), it was the best way I could think of to do something nice for myself.

Three weeks later, I’m breathing easy again and, while I still have that lingering tickle at the back of my throat, I no longer require Mucinex, a nasal spray, Vicks VapoRub, my daughter’s humidifier, the healing kit I bought at DollyMoo, and innumerable tissues.

Last weekend, instead of rolling out my mat and queuing up a yoga video for sick people on YouTube, my husband and I left Em at home with my parents and went to a local brewery for a yoga class taught by one of my favorite instructors, a guy who encourages us to say “fuck” on every exhale and to raise our middle fingers when we reverse our warriors. Afterward, we all had beers and hung out. Just as my gentle, at-home yoga was a way to be good to myself, so was this.

beer yoga

Feeling depleted? How can you be good to yourself right now? What’s your healthy choice?