The story of how I found and fell in love with yoga – Part One
I stared at the grass, gently knocking the fluff off of dandelions and watching my shoe lace slip out of its knot and come undone. I stooped to fix it, lingering longer than I needed to so that I could appear busy. This was how I preferred to spend soccer days during 7th grade gym class. While my peers hustled around, trying to drive the ball up and down the field, I preferred to get lost in thought, distraction and diversion: tying my shoes, watching planes, thinking about lunch… anything other than soccer. Whenever I kicked the ball it never reached its target, and I truly ended up doing more to aid the opposing team than my own. Honestly, it was better this way: me, spaced out and playing with the grass, staying out of the way of the action, while the team zipped around and scored goals or whatever. Just spare me the humiliation and let me do weird-kid-stuff on my own.
On this particular soccer day in 7th grade gym class, I quit fussing with my laces and I unwittingly rose back up right into the middle of the action. Somehow I was now central to the play. Kids were barreling up the field towards me, specifically the largest guy in my class – I’ll call him Tim. At 12 or 13-years-old Tim was already nearly 6 feet tall and broad. And heavy. I was directly in his path, and he had too much momentum. I was a goner. Before I could think or move, Tim had stumbled on top of me and flattened me, just like a pancake, onto the grass. All of the wind was knocked out of me, I couldn’t breathe, and, oddly enough, I completely blamed myself in that moment. What’s wrong with me? Why am I always in the way?
Whether those were reasonable thoughts or not, that was my takeaway from the experience.
Fast forward to a different gym class. Sophomore year. On soccer day. All these years later and the scene was very much the same: I was still spacing out, not engaged in the game, and just waiting for it to be over. Mr. Tag, the gym teacher, called out to me, “Falzon, get in the game!” I looked up at him, smirking, and gave him sass, “Oh yeah??” And then I wound my leg back – very dramatically – and tried to kick the ball away from my opponent, who was dribbling towards me. The opponent? Tim. The very same Tim! I kicked hard. I had something to prove: not only was I paying attention, but I was playing aggressively. This bluff did not serve me well.
I didn’t connect with the soccer ball at all. Instead, my toes CRUNCHED as they impacted against the inner arch of Tim’s giant foot. I knew immediately that I had messed up: the pain was sharp. Tim apologized to me, as if this was somehow his fault, and then carried on with the game. I don’t think he felt my kick on nearly the same scale that I had. I tried to look smooth, look cool, but something was definitely wrong with my foot. I toughed it out for a little while longer, but then I couldn’t ignore the fact that my toes and foot were swelling. I limped over to Mr. Tag and confessed that I had goofed, big time, and that I needed to see the nurse. I ended up having to get x-rays and then living in an orthopedic boot for 5-6 months to heal all of the toe ligaments I had torn. It was cool to have an elevator pass at school but ultimately not worth it. I do not recommend.
We won’t get into it now, but yes – there was also a time that I received a concussion from a basketball during gym class. Unreal!
Thinking back, I was sick and injured a lot. (Bizarre fact: most injuries and illnesses have been on the right side of my body. What’s up with that? A sketchy birth mark was removed from my right thigh. A large cyst formed and then ruptured on my right ovary. Pneumonia developed in my right lung. I fractured my right wrist. I passed out and shattered a glass, which then lodged itself in my right elbow as I collapsed on top of it. I passed out on a few other occasions, too. A different cyst was removed from my right shoulder. Oh, and the kick that wrecked my foot in high school? Yes. It was my right foot.)
I blamed my body through every injury and illness. I just thought I was frail, clumsy and weak. On top of this I was a girl (and am now a woman) in a society whose main emphasis is on female perfectionism and unrealistic beauty standards. With no other good information to go on, I believed that I was stuck in a seemingly useless, dysfunctional vessel and so I treated it like one. I had no real appreciation for my body, I didn’t trust it. I didn’t respect it. I was very skeptical and I kept asking myself, What’s wrong with me? Why am I always in the way?
That is, until I started hiking and practicing yoga.
To be continued…