Yoga seems to have a way of being present in my life when I don’t yet realize how much it is needed. My practice originally started six years ago. First, at our local YMCA and then at a small studio a few miles from my parents’ house. I was drawn to the centering and balance that it brought to me. I found a teacher that I loved and attended her Wednesday evening class religiously. It was that same year that I would go on to battle Hodgkin’s. I remember telling Syliva one evening after class, a week or two after my diagnosis, that I didn’t want her to be alarmed, but I would soon be coming to class bald and probably a few pounds lighter. To this day I don’t think she knows how much that hour and fifteen minutes every week meant to me. That class was one of the only places, outside of home, where I felt completely comfortable being myself. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have any hair and eventually no eyebrows. No one stared or treated me like I was going to break in front of their eyes. They continued their practice and allowed me to continue mine. Towards the end of chemo my oncologist finally put the axe on running as my weight was dropping along with my red blood cells, but yoga was always there.
Triathlon has put my yoga practice on the back burner for the most part. I like to attend classes here and there but up until recently it just didn’t fit. During the holidays this past year I started going to hot yoga in preparation for Ironman Cabo. Since January I have been going three times a week to sweat it out and acclimate for what is looking to be a pretty toasty day. After bouncing around between teachers for a bit I feel like I have found another “Sylvia”. Someone’s who energy and authenticity draws full classes no matter the time of day. I have loved the dimension and strength that yoga has brought to my triathlon training. It seems to be exactly what I needed during this build.
Last week SMASH co-founder and dear friend Michele lost her brother-in-law after a long battle with cancer. As I read her Facebook post and tears flooded my eyes, I felt like I had literally been punched in the stomach. From the moment I met Michele she has treated me like family and her loss hit like a ton of bricks. The rest of the day was spent oscillating between anger and fighting back tears.
The next day after a terrible, tapering run I went to “Sylvia’s” Thursday afternoon class. It was crowded and hot and wonderful. Towards the end of class she gave us a few minutes to practice inversions. I have been working these past few months towards a handstand, but hadn’t yet been able to kick-up myself. With Ironman approaching and my muscles tired from a hard practice I thought about just putting my legs up the wall and starting to relax. But something urged me to give it a shot. I set up next to the mirror, and after a kick or two I landed softly and strongly upside down.
That handstand isn’t important in the bigger picture. But the physical and mental strength that yoga has brought me most certainly is. As I take on Ironman Cabo this weekend I will take that strength with me. I will remember to be so incredibly grateful for the ability to travel 140.6 miles no matter what the time on the clock may read. And I will smile because this is something I get to do, and that is a truly wonderful gift.