Growing up I was always drawn to athletic pastimes. Dancing, gymnastics, basketball, track, waterskiing, snow skiing, triathlons, marathons, etc.. Through high school, into college and even into my early adult years, I was a very competitive basketball player. And, still to this day I love the game so much that I volunteer as my 9 year olds basketball coach. Early on, I found these various physical outlets as a way to unwind stress and tension. A sense of confidence building. A way to work and connect with others. An outlet for the intensity that I have always had. And, I LOVE being embodied. Getting out of my head. Being in the zone. Connecting to the present moment. Dropping the analysis of the rest of my life.
So, it was no surprise that when I found the practice of yoga asana (the physical practice of yoga) that I loved it. I jumped right into the chaturangas (the pushups), bhandas (the core work), adho mukha svanasanas (the downward dogs). I would try to refine the poses, the actions, and I had good intentions. I was exploring through the pieces, the fragments of myself. And, I still remember my very first EVER savasana. Something I’d never experienced happened. I found the GAP-as some people call it. I felt time stopped. I felt curious about that as someone who was very busy and movement oriented. I felt curious about this notion of balance. This notion of wholeness. Of course we were balancing when we were standing on one foot in practice, but there was a larger metaphor at play. Not too much, not to little. Buddhists call it 'Right Aim, Right Energy'. Over the years, I began to play with balance in my yoga practice so that maybe I didn’t have to do 108 chaturangas (which my shoulders were telling me wasn’t sustainable anyway). I began to feel the power of my breath to create grounding, to create liquidity, to light the fire, the open my heart and to feel spacious. I began to tap the more subtle layers of my being that often didn't feel so subtle when I was/am really really listening.
This idea of wholeness to me is balance. That I am not just a mother. Not just a wife. Not just a yoga teacher. A basketball player. An athlete. A spirit. That my competitive side doesn't need to apologize to my zen side. I am not just my shoulders. Not just my abdominals. My quadriceps. My calves. I am the full embodiment of me. The one who has evolved over time as a basketball player into a yoga teacher. And, to feel into all the layers that make me whole. And, when my shoulders are bothering me, I can consider that I’ve been frustrated about something more than usual and focus on that too, not just over stretching or over strengthening them. So, that I can feel into the depth that my entire being is not only offering but that I am alive through.
That’s why you’ll always get an athletic nugget to bite into in my classes and also a way to feel more deeply into what is wholeness for you.