I’m watching a circle of middleschoolers on the playing fields launch into jumping jacks. Such a spring sight – team practice – all that energy flowing easily through the bodies of seventh and eighth graders. I feel myself smile recalling my years on the track team.
Wait a second. I’ve been gypped. By the seventh grade, I’d already been in physical therapy for six months. Following a stroke, wind sprints and baton-passing drills hardly came with ease. Even my jumping jacks leaned to the left.
Tension takes over and the smile disappears. Sweat beads up on my forehead first, sprouting in spots along the way to my feet.
Wait another second. What is this bone-gripping sensation taking over my body? I recognize that I haven’t moved like those kids in thirty-five years. I’m aware that I shifted from gimpy to seriously gimpy with the addition of PD.
Anger sweeps in with this first-time realization that I didn’t move like those kids even when I was a kid.
Back home, I remain unsettled. I ease into a yoga flow. Yes, ease. Yoga brings me a sense of ease, building strength, flexibility and balance within. Somewhere between a forward bend and a down-dog, I begin to understand and the angry tension leaves my mind, relaxing my body.
Some people say that yoga chose them. I disagree. I selected track as a kid and I consciously opt for yoga as an adult. It is not what comes my way that defines me, be that stroke, PD, or the emotions that arise, surround, or even encase me at times. No, yoga was my choice. If anything defines me, it is my active response to what comes my way, being with it but not being it.