I paddled flat water kayak and war canoe competitively when I was young. It involved training two or three times each day during the summer, and strength training all winter. What I remember about our summer workouts was one minute of flinging, twisting, jerking upper-body movement that we called stretching, followed by a 10-minute run, after which we’d jump in our boats and work hard while a coach yelled at us to work hard. We raced every weekend. I still dream about the bang of the gun at the starting line.
Learning What My Body Wants
It was fun, and formative, but at that age I was just doing what I was told. I paddled because I was told to paddle.
My definition of fun has changed.
Over time, I’ve fallen in love with a more gentle and thorough kind of stretching. I’ve lost interest in being yelled at. I’ve lost my fear of losing and have completely redefined what winning and losing mean.
I pay more attention to how my body feels and to what it loves in order to feel fabulous.
Back then my body was something that never measured up. I didn’t feel fast enough, strong enough, lean enough, or competitive enough to please my coaches. The idea of pleasing myself had not yet occurred to me.
Now, I see my body as a generous, resilient, healthy, and beautiful vehicle for my considerable spirit. What makes it feel fabulous is being listened to, honored, forgiven, and enjoyed every single day.
And although I am not perfectly at peace with this body, I am so much closer than I was when I was 15 or 20 that I can hardly wait to see what 60 and 70 feel like.
Here’s what I’m grateful for today: I’m grateful for being involved in a sport that taught me a bit about who I am and a lot about who I am not. I’m grateful for it sending me searching for a better fit.
And I’m grateful for yoga for being a perfect fit.
It makes me wonder how many of you combine a life of yoga and competitive sport. Do you love both? Has yoga enriched your competitive life? Or has yoga replaced competitive sport for you? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for these marvelous bodies of ours. Thanks to you for the conversation,