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My costume glitters in the black light of the backstage area, my body tensing up, my mind telling it to relax. The curtain opens slowly while the clapping from the audience ceases. The music comes on, and my routine begins. I have every movement memorized, my muscle memory guides me through the steps. But something feels different from the countless other times I have performed. For a second I can’t figure out why, until, as I pose, I catch a glimpse of my left foot, hidden beneath a big, grey, boot.
I began dancing when I was three years old. I loved every aspect of it, the costumes, the music, the teachers, watching the older girls, and above all, performing.
Yet seventh grade was the start of my injuries. After falling in gym class, the next four years of my life were spent watching my dance classes, going to the doctor, and extensive physical therapy. Due to my injuries, I made the difficult decision to not audition for my dance company junior year. I knew I could not go from devoting all my energy into one activity, to putting no energy into anything at all. I needed a new passion but I was unclear as to what that would be.
As an outlet, I did yoga more frequently than I had in the past. Unbeknownst to me, during that time of reflection and discovery, yoga became my new passion, my outlet and my dedication. With a new found love for breath and movement, I enrolled in a 200 hour teacher training course. By the Spring of 2017, I became the second youngest Vinyasa Yoga instructor in the country. The hours I used to spend dancing I began to spend at the studio, teaching kids at my local middle school, and even getting a yoga club approved at my high school. Looking back, I am glad I was willing to take the risk and discover a new passion. Yoga is a completely different atmosphere than what I was used to. Instead of it being competitive, it is supportive, instead of being exhausting, it is reviving.
I now have a steady meditation practice, and with this, comes more and more positive thoughts. Yoga, and the yoga community I was so graciously welcomed into, offered countless opportunities. I now teach at three different studios, am the President and founder of my school’s Yoga Club, and a volunteer and participant of many non profit yoga events and charities. Overall, I am happier, not only with the changes that have taken place in my life, but with the impact that I have been able to make on my community, and the positivity I now possess.
Looking back, although leaving dance seemed at the time, unimaginable, my injury led me to discover that I can be and do anything I set my mind to. I learned that I am able to reinvent myself and change what I am not happy about in my life, instead of sitting in self-doubt and self-pity, I got out of my own way and discovered there is more to life than just dancing. It has become clear to me now, that by stepping away from what I knew, I was able to find a happier, healthier, and more open minded version of myself.
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