When I started my yoga practice, I simultaneously started a ballet class. This was my grand gesture to get my body ‘in shape’. It actually already has a shape, I just wanted it to be a different shape.
I have always wanted to dance the ballet, but am aware that I do not have a ‘ballet body’ (said using Thurston Howell III’s voice) and I just couldn’t see myself in a ballet class. Ok, truth be told, I couldn’t see myself in leotards. Ok, truth be told even further, I could see myself in leotards and it was terrifying. There were other fears, too; what if my plié is passé, what if I fall?
But when my friend Desire said ‘you should take ballet 101’ I listened because she is a ballerina with a ballet body, and maybe she knows something I don’t know. I convinced my friend Monica to join the class too, saying the same thing to her; you should take ballet 101. I figured I was channeling Desire because she said yes, just like I did.
My first dance class was when I was six years old. On day one, my mother sent me in with pink satin pointe shoes and a pink taffeta tutu over pink tights and leotard. I was mortified when the teacher sent me right back out and then argued with my mother that I was not to be in pointe shoes and a tutu as the beginners’ class wears flats and no tutu. I could hear my mom’s stern reply to the teacher; she’s wearing the shoes and the tutu. Clearly, my mom had not studied the art of persuasion with my friend Desire, because I was not allowed in that class again.
In ballet, everything is to be done with precision, with alignment and with perfection which antagonizes my inner perfectionist to no end. I wince when gently corrected in ballet and immediately imagine that my chances with the Joffrey just went out the window.
Quite the opposite with yoga, according to my teacher. He assures me that yoga is not about perfect alignment, not about perfection at all, rather it is about acceptance and union with the Divine. He must know Desire, because I believe him without question.
I fell on my head when attempting crow at home. And I lose my balance in class all the time, it just makes me laugh like a child. I never wince when my asanas are adjusted, my spirit soars with joy as I feel the power of the pose even more when my body is moved just so.
Yoga is showing me how to be in devotion to the part of me that is not perfect, and is not expected to be. Yoga shows me that my body is flexible as it bows down low, surrendering itself to the source of all things. Yoga shows me how strong my body is as it reaches high up to touch The Divine.
I told Monica to go to yoga with me, using the Desire voice. She said yes.