Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Channeling My Inner Gymnast

I fondly remember watching the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. The air or re-air time was such that I could watch some of the gymnastics coverage while eating breakfast. I recall tumbling in the living room imagining I was there, even though I had no idea where Korea was.

After my connection with gymnastics and Korea over those few weeks, I asked my parents if I could take gymnastics. The following summer, I found myself in the gym of what would one day be my high school, learning the basics of gymnastics. I loved it.

Tumbling was fun. You could flip and turn, land on the floor spring board and pop right back up. You could pretend you were competing in the Olympics with your hair in a high pony tail and a glittery outfit. You could watch others complete a move then try yourself without fear of failure. I vividly remember practicing vaults over and over again while the radio (does anyone remember the radio station Z95?) played Rick Astley and other great artist of the late '80's. Keep in mind I was 8.

When the summer session ended, I went to Gym Kena in...wait for it... Mokena. Truthfully, I can't remember how long I continued to train. Maybe a year.

At this point in my life, I was already the tallest girl in my class and going through another growth spurt. At 9, I was easily an inch or two over 5' and wearing a size 9 shoe. Right around this time is when I started getting asked if I played basketball and/or volleyball. Little did I know those questions would never end. I remember a male and female instructor at the gym. I was as tall as the woman already.

Towards the end of the last class of the session, I remember one of them pulling me to the side and telling me in a very nice way that I was not cut out for gymnastics. I'm sure there was some sort of basketball mention made as a way to segway the conversation into what could be assumed was my athletic future.

Fast forward to last winter when I picked up yoga again at the first studio. I'd practiced yoga at my gym in the mid 2000's, but now I was practicing with some advanced instructors and students. Inversions were not an if, but a when in each session. Imagine my delight when the wheel pose was mentioned towards the end of class. Why yes, I remember doing this in gymnastics, and in fact, I could still do it. Yoga breakthrough.

Since then, I've been trying to channel my inner gymnast. Some poses I recall doing when I was younger. Can I still do them? Just like when I was a kid, I should feel free to attempt in yoga practice without judgement/fear of failure.

When I can get in this mindset, I find I can push through any preconceived notions of what I should or shouldn't be able to do. It was through this thinking that I was able to do a headstand recently in practice. I'd had a stressful day at work, but in that moment, I was 8 again, listening to Rick Astley and loving life.

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