It’s been 51 days since the White House became orange. That means we have only roughly 1,400 days left in this presidency, with its penchant for frivolous executive orders, constant lies, maligning of the press and sharing way too many problematic tweets.
It’s OK. I know. I’m rocking back and forth wailing, too.
But on a serious note, my days have become almost predictable in their monotonous incredulity and outrage. I get up early, start cranking out news articles, and inevitably, some crazy story about the president’s (or his Cabinet’s) faux pas du jour or executive order du jour hits the news cycle. I laugh or curse (maybe both) with my teammates. I bite my nails in a bad habit fueled by anxiety as I catch up on everything that’s actually going on in the White House. I eye the clock, doing that annoying tick thing I do with my leg, desperately waiting for my “me time.”
And then I can escape.
Yoga (I practice mainly power yoga) has been my choice of self-care lately. I’m a
self-described yogi, so it’s generally important for me to get on my mat regularly, but lately I’ve found myself running toward my mat daily, particularly on a stressful news day.
There’s really just something about being able to escape social media and the news, turn off my phone for at least the next hour, unroll my mat at the studio, sink back into child’s pose and take a continuous series of solid breaths.
I originally came to yoga because of my job. I love what I do, bringing news to our community, but black news can be a bit of a strain on your person, as I’m sure any black person can relate to. When you spend day after day writing up (or reading) stories about black people being brutalized, abused, bullied, made to feel othered ... it takes its toll.
And, so, I turned to yoga looking for relief, looking for that self-care that I’ve seen so many others revel in when talking about the ancient practice. And personally, for me, a whole new world opened.
One thing turned to another, and I soon found myself in teacher training (ya girl is a registered yoga teacher now!) and studying the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras and other texts in my free time. My now-pretty-much-daily time on the mat (usually in the evening) is a signal that the workday is officially over and I am free to shed whatever mental weight may have accumulated throughout the day.
I joke all the time that yoga is the only thing saving me from a breakdown (or from strangling someone), but a lot of truth is said in jest.
On my mat, I am reminded to be present. On my mat, I feel connected. On my mat, I’m too focused on trying not to die as we go through more chaturangas (high-to-low-planks) than humanly possible to focus on anything else. On my mat, all thoughts of politics, news and Trump fades away. My brain slows down; there’s nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back on.
Well, at least until I walk out of the studio and look at my phone, only to see a breaking-news alert neatly deposited in my email inbox.
But at least I return to reality calmer, more grounded, more mindful, and more than ready to take on the next challenge in the media space. Yoga is just that thing that gives me a clean slate from which to work, a sort of mental clarity and dedication that I’ve rarely experienced before. It makes me a better human being, I think.
But it’s definitely not the only way of going around taking care of yourself during these troubled times. I know a lot of people (co-worker and perpetual hater Stephen Crockett, for example) who would rather have someone operate on them without anesthesia than step into a heated-yoga class, so I’m curious: What have y’all been doing to stay loved up during this presidency?
Maybe you find solace at the gym? Whipping up new creations in the kitchen? Working on your car or bike? Have you turned to shopping? Perhaps you’ve been going to a few more happy hours than you used to? (Though I don’t recommend the alcohol approach if you hope to have a liver in January 2021 ... especially with that atrocity of a proposed health care bill going around.)
Me? You’ll find me on my mat.