After ballet, yoga seemed to be my next logical step; it came easy to me—or so I thought.
So, I traded my toe shoes for a yoga mat.
I am blessed with natural turn out (outward rotation of the hips), but, as it goes, my turn out was a problem. A big problem. Going from classical ballet positions to yoga poses was more difficult than I anticipated: thinking and rethinking movement and position, while not judging my mindset.
As per my life, I had to re-learn all I had ever known (and what my muscle memory knew) about turning out—and turn in.
As I began my practice, I had to swallow my ego more than once. Everything was in opposition.
In ballet, you learn to point your toes, open your eyes, breathe light, be light and go with the music; there is no time for your own pace. In yoga, you flex your toes, close your eyes, breath with purposeful intention, and you are not only allowed, but also encouraged to be with your own pace.
Change is good; free your mind and your heart will follow…
Both practices use and require focus and both practices ask you to constantly contort your body/mind into what appears beautiful to the witness, but is awkward to your natural stance.
Yoga is inward, ballet is outward.
In ballet I learned to conquer. In yoga I am learning surrender…
In ballet, competition is all. In yoga, there is none.
In ballet, you own your ego. In yoga, you tame it.
In ballet, food is death. In yoga, it is life.
In ballet, you destroy peace. In yoga, you create it.
Yoga teaches inner peace, if you are willing to receive it that way…
When I am at my edge, yoga gently puts me on notice. Ballet called it out, there was no compromise. I stretched until I snapped and then I went farther. The breath was not to be seen or heard, and my edge became sharp, honed and cold.
Now, as I work on retaining my flexibility, getting closer and more familiar with my breathing, I can quietly get to that one last inch, with that one last breath, and light the fire within.
The breath does more than just feed the lungs…
I can tell you that I mastered ballet, but yoga mastery is infinite.
This concept becomes clearer as I practice mindfulness and serenity. The more I learn, the less I know—which leaves quite an opening for possibility.
I have a deep respect for both ballet and yoga, and while both activities require discipline, commitment and love, there is something more to yoga, which transcends the movement—allowing us to connect with thoughtful participation.
Senses engaged, rooted and strong.
You are never too old to move…
Some call it torture—perhaps…(smiling). Gratitude and grace come with a price. As I turn in I can see it all for betterment.
Age and time are unstoppable, but the gift of yoga can slow it all down.
At the tender age of 52, yoga opens up what is sometimes closed, and gives the body, mind and soul an inward purpose after looking outward for so long. What a joy.
Big Ujjayi breath… I drink it up!
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Assistant Editor: Renée Claude/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Kryziz Bonny/Flickr