I got felled this week. Along with roughly 20,000 New Yorkers, I got the flu. I hemmed and hawed all of Friday over getting subs for the yoga classes I teach on Saturday or pushing through and teaching. I would be losing a lot of money if I didn’t teach. Yoga teachers don’t get paid sick days. I would also miss my students. I genuinely love teaching the classes I teach on Saturdays. And yet, was I really well enough to trek all over the place and teach? I also sounded sick. No one wants a sick person touching her or breathing on her, which is essentially what I do when I teach. My students expect hands on adjustments and that requires getting close, and in this case probably sharing my germs.
My debate over whether to teach or not came to a screeching halt when one of my friends said I would not be demonstrating self-care or self-compassion to my students by teaching sick. She reminded me that I am not just teaching poses I am teaching self-care and self-compassion. Teaching while sick would be sending the opposite message to my students. So, I got subs for my classes and pondered how profoundly bad at self-care and self-compassion I can be.
I am really good at pushing myself to the max, going and going and going until I am running on fumes or I crash and burn. I think this is in part due to so many years as a dancer. The saying, “The show must go on,” is true. The show really does go on no matter what is happening behind the scenes. I have taken this mentality into everything I do. When, the truth of the matter is, the show must go on and it will go on, with or without me. It is okay to call out sick when genuinely sick. This is not something I do often. I could blame it on having jobs that offer no paid sick days but in all honesty, I rarely called out sick when I did have paid sick days. I am really good at putting my needs last and putting self-care stuff at the end of my daily to-do-lists. Bottom line is, I should come first. I do not mean this in a selfish way, but if I am not taking care of myself I will have nothing to give to others. I have to actively show others that I have compassion for myself if I want them to treat me with compassion. Plus, as a teacher it is important to practice what you preach.
While sick I have begun to seriously think about how to put myself first, as well as eating better and getting to sleep earlier. Taking time to do something daily that nourishes my mind, body, and spirit is on the list of guidelines I want to live my life by. That is, at its core, practicing self-care and self-compassion daily. This past week I started to take some steps in the right direction. It was hard, really hard. Initially it felt awful, but in the end I felt relieved that the only thing on my to-do-list while sick was taking care of myself.