About five and a half years ago I was in the best shape of my life. Due to a rigorous dance schedule, I almost had what I think of as the perfect body and I was strong. In a tickle fight, I could hold off my husband using just my legs and for the first time in my life, my arms had enough strength that I could carry heavy things like a box of books or lift myself up and down on the kitchen counter without jumping first. And then I got pregnant.
At first it wasn’t that bad. Apart from the sickness and other usual symptoms, I was great. I got through our end of the year shows with the help of some gatorade and lunch with my BFF (who is also a dancer and was pregnant at the time). As my pregnancy progressed, though, the sickness and the exhaustion got to me and I barely made it through summer classes. I decided to wait until after I delivered to dance again. Unfortunately, that decision and a traumatic delivery left me without the muscles I had worked so hard to obtain and almost fifteen pounds lighter than my normal light weight. Two years later when I was ready to get more serious about getting in shape, I became pregnant again. The results in my body were the same. I lost any and all muscle that I had built up again (mainly in my legs) despite taking a ballet class throughout my pregnancy, simply performing barre in my third trimester. For the first time in my life, I hated the body I saw in the mirror. I would wish for my before body. For awhile I tried to workout at home, sadly I am one of those people that needs a partner to do it with me or I lose motivation. I took class but I was worn out most of the time and honestly didn’t put as much effort into it as I should have.
When I decided to take another break this year, I knew I would need something to help me not go crazy. So I turned to yoga. I’ve been a bit sporadic with it recently, only doing it once or twice a week instead of the every day I started out with, but I cannot deny that I am still getting results. The other night I crawled up onto the kitchen counter to eat and when I was done, I made it a point to test my arm strength by slowly lowering myself back down. I was able to do it with ease. Twice. I suppose in order for you to understand why this would excite me so much, why this would be the first test I would use to measure my progress, I would first need to explain that during one of my heart surgeries the doctors cut through the muscles along my shoulder blades so they could get to my arteries. This caused me to not only have really cool looking scars, it also made my arms extremely weak. When I would fall I would put my hands out like normal but they might as well have been tied behind my back for the help they provided me. As I got older, my arms did get stronger but they’ve always been the weakest part of me. So the fact that I can use my arms to do something as small as supporting my weight as I lower down is a big deal to me.
I know that still I’m not where I want to be physically. Yet. I know it’s coming. Every time I do a Chatarunga Vinyasa it’s a small victory for me and helps to keep me going. I remind myself that supporting myself this way was not something I could do even three months ago. I could pick up my kids but if I tried to do anything in which my arms supported my weight, I’d fall out of it. My next goal is to be able to do a full push-up, something I’ve never actually been good at. I’m going to keep doing yoga, using it to obtain the goals I’m setting for myself. When I return to dance, I won’t be starting from ground zero again. I know it’s going to take time and a lot of faith but eventually I’m going to be able to look into the mirror and love my body again.