As I settle into week two of the third wave lockdown, recovery comes to mind. There are four seasons - one of birthday (spring), one of frolicking and play (summer), the slowing and eventual decline of vibrancy (fall), and then winter arrives - cold and damp - where nature stops growth and hibernates. This cycle of living allows for a regeneration and growth to be sustained. During the cycle of a day there is also the need for rest.
Yet for some reason, we seem to believe rest can be put off or caught up on later. Well, it can't.
Yup... read that again... we do not "catch up" on rest or nutrition.
I mentioned in a previous post the concept of homeostasis.
If you are an athlete who trains on a regular basis, the homeostasis feedback loop is continually working to assist the body in balancing hormone levels, reducing the carbon dioxide in the blood, getting heart rate back to a resting point, balancing the electrolytes in the blood, and on and on. You can check out this link for more information. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/
Bottom line.... too much exercise can be a bad thing AND rest and time for recovery are helpful in preventing/reducing the effects of overtraining.
This concept is not new. Ayurveda is an approach to prevention and healing practiced predominantly in eastern cultures. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” The premise of the practice is this idea of being "in balance" or having the body in a state of homeostasis. If the body in not in balance, the imbalance can lead to disease. This idea is also proposed by western medicine.
In Ayurveda, the idea is that we each have a different state of balance based on our own innate physiological and psychological states. This means treatment is a little more individualized - though not dramatically so. There is a book titled, Body, Mind, Sport, written by John Douillard which describes the exercises you may be best suited for based on these principles of Ayurveda. Douillard only mentions rock climbing under Kapha body types which is the antithesis of what I have a tendency to see in terms of participants, and certainly with regard to competitive climbing. For example, I have a fair amount of pitta - fire and water - this gives me great determination, tenacity, and typically pitta's are more medium in stature and type A personalities. Definitely helpful qualities for getting to the top. On the other hand, it can mean I am not very patient and can easily over train or push beyond healthy approaches which can lead to injury.
Still -- it can be fun to understand what you are made up of and use that information to help guide your decisions. As a coach, I am a strong believer in critically examining all the information out there and using what works. How can you know what you are made up of? There are countless quizzes out there and information describing what the quiz results means. The most cautionary piece of advice I will give you is that you were born with a particular prakriti - or nature - and everything happening today is influencing how you answer the questions, giving you your vikriti. Prakriti is you in balance, vikriti is you out of balance. Here is an article written by the amazing Kathryn Templeton who I trust when it comes to Ayurveda. Here is more information from Carrie Demers - also a western medical doctor.
Using lockdown skillfully
As we surf through the third wave of COVID and the governments and medical teams and volunteers get those vaccines rolled out, this is a spectacular time to go against the cultural norm of being productive by doing more. Instead, consider how you might use this time to improve recovery and prepare the body for back to training performance. All those years of living in a van, travelling and climbing, my partner and I did a more periodized approach to training, taking up to a whole month off every 2-3 months. We used the time to do other things that were not training focused.
I have watched numerous folks go through injury BECAUSE they did not take time off to prevent the injury and so the overuse injury arose. As I very painfully learned when I smacked myself violently across the chin with the end of shovel and got a concussion, resulting in nothing more that slow walks on the beach and quiet time in a quiet space, not to bright or warm -- sometimes the only thing you can do is rest.
And it is worth it. Not paying attention and getting my heart rate up with a quick jog meant painful headaches, sleepless nights and body flushes in the days and weeks that followed that 20 minutes of jogging.
After a very stressful period in my life in 2015, I went to India and spent two weeks in an ashram. I did nothing but one asana practice and hours of meditation and journalling. I ate healthy food and slept. Practiced Yoga Nidra and I never, ever felt better in my life.
Alright - you have some quizzes you can do to entertain yourself. I have given you some articles to read. AND a Yoga Nidra practice. Good luck! I do hope you find peace and rest in the coming days.
PS... During that very difficult year - 2015 - I started having double vision. I literally had to push my eye upward to see straight. After the eye doctor sent me to a specialist who mentioned brain tumour, I went to an Ayurvedic doctor, while pursuing western medical tests. Results came back... I have a fourth cranial nerve palsy... it is congenital. According to western medicine the solution was new glasses with prisms.
The Ayurvedic doctor gave me a prescription that involved changes to diet and to rest every morning with warm ghee in my eyes - soothing the optic muscles. The result - no more double vision. I did not get the glasses. A year later when re-tested, the result surprised all the western medical professionals who could not understand why I no longer needed the new glasses.
Like I suggested... use what works.
Writing, journalling, podcasting... it's all about sharing the journey.