How Yoga Has Helped Me


For the last month and a half, I have been doing a lot of yoga. I’ve found yoga valuable in the past. For instance, when I was just beginning to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, yoga was one of the first forms of exercise that I was able to attempt. I could do it at home, stop any time, didn’t need any assistance, and there was no risk of becoming stranded as a result of fatigue – which could have happened at that stage had a gone for a walk on my own and become too tired to make it back.

It’s quite amazing to think of how weak I had become as a result of being debilitated by CFS. Things like chair pose, high lunges or cobras which I now perform easily as part of an active recovery really tested my muscular strength and endurance back then.

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The Mean Reds: Bad Days, in a Life after Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Every now and then, I have a Bad Day.

I don’t mean the kind of day where everything goes wrong and you’d just rather throw your phone in the ocean and eat coconuts by the sea (although I certainly have those days as well.) The Bad Days that I’m talking about here are the days when you wake up and nothing works. You usually make an espresso every morning as soon as you get out of bed, but one Bad Day you get up and it’s an agonising decision that your brain just can’t seem to fathom – will I have a coffee? You’ve been taking the same bus-route for the last six months, but all of a sudden choosing which bus to take is a fifteen-minute process. Any environment in which you hear more than one voice at a time becomes terrain that you can’t negotiate. Despite feeling really happy to be at the gym, the weights you lifted last week wear you down and you fatiguing within a set.

I don’t like to think that these Bad Days are related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but I do know that I never had them before CFS. Although I celebrate the anniversary of my recovery on the 24th of February each year (and it has been three years so far!) every now and then I’ll try to floor the metaphorical accelerator pedal and my brain and body just stall – nothing happens, and the harder I try to push, the less I get out of myself.

I include the clip above from Breakfast at Tiffany’s because, although Holly Golightly is a call-girl talking about anxiety and I am an athlete talking about some kind of intermittent, post-CFS failure-to-launch, it illustrates something about the way that I feel about these days.

Some people told me that you never recover from CFS, that you just learn to live with it. It’s a concept that makes me uncomfortable, but that I sometimes subscribe to, albeit reluctantly. I don’t like to imagine that I’m walking around with this ticking bomb inside me, waiting to explode and splatter my new, beloved life with the shrapnel and gore of Relapse. But I remain “alert but not alarmed” to the possibility. It’s like my own microcosmic War on Terror.

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Where Did You Want To Be Two Years Ago?

I was recently prompted to “write the post that was on my mind when I decided to start this blog.”

I went back over my archives and read my first post. It was February 2012. I was enjoying my first year of good health after chronic fatigue syndrome.

I wrote:

Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury
Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury

“Where I’d rather be now is reaching more people through my personal training business, competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fighting in Muay Thai again both here and in Thailand, and making my debut in Mixed Martial Arts. These are the things that have formed the basis of 2012′s Resolutions, which in turn determine the actions I take each day to make these a reality.” 

Since then, I moved some goal-posts. Transitioning from Muay Thai to MMA was more difficult than imagined, so my goals to have more Muay Thai fights and to go to Thailand have been superseded by my focus on grappling.

I have seen how competitive the personal training industry has become, and how much more clients need than basic exercise programs. I continue to work with fitness clients, while making myself a better exercise specialist and, eventually, a holistic nutritionist through formal study.

One area of my life has gone according to plan, and that’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Losing via ground-and-pound stoppage in an MMA fight against Arlene Blencowe last year turned out to be a blessing. It has driven me to develop my grappling skills.

Last weekend I competed in the South Australian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu State Championships – my first competition as a blue belt.

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