Steve Jobs

Dear yogis,

I’ve been through the wars a bit lately, what with my virus, and then injuring my foot… and I’ve been a little busy.

The last time I was this busy, I also went through the wars, I ended up in hospital with DVT.

I’d like to say ‘I think I’ve figured out what the problem is’ – but in reality, I know:

I have trouble saying ‘no’.

I am the fixer, the doer, the one that just wants people to be happy.

Once on yoga teacher training, my teacher Debbie asked me: What is the one thing you want most in the world?

I answered: I want to make the whole world happy.

The look of absolute utter despair she gave me when I said that surprised me – surely that’s a nice thing to say?

But now I know what her look of despair was for.

The one thing I wanted in the world was to make everyone else happy – where in that sentence was any part of me thinking about me?

And that’s just my problem, I never really do think about me.

This Tuesday at 8.30am, when I was in bed, just woken up, I got a call from another teacher asking if I could cover her class in an hour’s time – the class I was meant to be attending as a student.

I thought: “No, absolutely not, I do not want to do that at all, I want to go to yoga, not teach yoga, I’m not prepared, I am knackered from Godstoneberry weekend and the last thing on earth I feel like I have the energy for right now is teaching”.

I answered: “Yes.”

Not content with ignoring my gut, I decided to add even more pressure on myself by following it with: “What was the theme? So I can try and plan something to fit in with what you were going to do?”

It was 8.40am by the time I got off the call, I spent the next 20 minutes grabbing my mudras book, my Mark Stephens yoga flow book and my notebook (plus google) to try and write a New Moon flow so I could teach as much as what the other teacher was going to teach. I even said I would teach Moon Salutations even though I never have before and fired up the computer and printer to print off a sheet for guidance.

Did I need to do this? No, absolutely not, I could have just reeled off one of my old classes and the students wouldn’t know any different, but I felt bad – I wanted to help, and I wanted to help properly so that is what I did.

At 9am, I thought “oh, I need to be teaching in half an hour, I better get a wriggle on and get dressed”, by 9.10am I had grabbed a banana to eat en route as no time for breakfast, gathered my mat, book and speaker and hot footed it out the front door in flip flops.

I decided to walk – because, you know walking is good – “it’s 9.10am, is this a good idea Emily? It’s at least a 15 minute walk and you are meant to be teaching in 20 minutes?”

My gut said no, my stubborn head said “yes – I’ll be there before half nine, I can walk fast and walking is good for you.”

About a minute away from the front door and I realise “shiiiiiiiiit, I am actually pretty late to be teaching a class, better move faster.”

My foot slipped, and the kerb took a chunk of skin right out of it under the ball of the right big toe.

Ouch I thought, still let’s move on, sure it’s fine.

I get to the studio – blood pouring out of my flip flop.

“Thanks so much for offering to cover at short notice Emily…”

“Err, about that… only I just cut my foot outside – have you got a plaster?”

“We think you maybe need to sit down Emily, that’s a lot of blood, we will get the first aid kit”.

Upon seeing said blood, I then realise the damage, and burst into tears – “I’m still ok to teach, I just need to patch it up – I don’t want to let anyone down!”

“Emily, the wound is full of gravel, it needs cleaning, we really don’t think you should teach – here’s some wipes”.

Upon cleaning the wound I realise the severity, blood won’t stop, it’s a huge chunk of skin, maybe I can still teach? I think I am ok to teach, I can sort this out later? Yes of course I can, can I?

“Emily we are making the decision for you, you are not teaching. Get a cab home, or go to A&E, the students will be fine without their yoga for the day.”

I felt awful, but reluctantly agreed, I was actually worried about the gravel, it was too tricky to get to and I thought I needed to see a professional, so I agreed.

Upon hobbling to the doctors and being told they couldn’t fit me in, I saw said students outside the coffee shop.

Guess what? No one cared they didn’t have yoga that morning, they were more concerned about me. They gave me the advice to go to Minor Injuries, where I got it patched up and had a tetanus shot, and I returned home.

I felt like a right muppet – guilty for letting the other teacher down, guilty for letting her students down, guilty for then probably letting my students down later in the week, but most of all disappointed in myself for not just saying no in the first place when I really wanted to.

I ignored my gut feeling.

I wasn’t looking after myself.

As a result, I had to cancel my classes this week, I can’t really stand on my foot – and I would like it to heal as fast as it can because it is in a really awkward place.

But as I sit here and write this blog, and referring back to the quote at the top of it I realise something: sometimes, you have to say yes to realise what is important.

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

I should have, after working nine days straight, including 15 hour days across the weekend at a festival (which also included me teaching two yoga classes) I should have taken this week off.

I didn’t have the energy to teach that class on Tuesday morning and in all honesty, I don’t have the energy to be teaching at all this week.

I am not ill, I am knackered.

I hate cancelling classes, I’ve only done it twice – I’ve carried on through every low energy bout, every part of depression, every bit of every low mood, but sometimes when it is really really bad – you shouldn’t have to do that.

Last year after I worked Godstoneberry I was still in my full time job, I took annual leave for a couple of days after to recover.

Did I do that this year? No, because taking annual leave from a job is easy – you don’t upset anyone, but cancelling a yoga class feels like you are letting someone down – maybe because I know how important yoga is to me – I hate to be the one not to give it to you!

But in reality, it’s perfectly ok to say “NO” to everything else around you if you just want to sit on your ass and watch Stranger Things all week (which is what I have done today, largely).

It is ok to listen to your gut, it is ok to listen to your body, and it is ok to say: “No. Today I don’t feel like doing this, so I won’t”.

So maybe I learned the hard way, and maybe I’ve got a dodgy foot for a bit, but in reality that injury did me a favour.

It’s allowed me to create the space that I needed this week.

So next time you want to say no, but start to say yes, give yourself a little bit of time first before you answer – because I guarantee if you don’t listen to your gut, the universe will make you.

And trust me – it will.

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