“The Church says: the body is a sin. Science says: the body is a machine. Advertising says: The body is a business.
The Body says: I am a fiesta.”
~ Eduardo Galeano
I came to yoga as a dancer who had a lot of hang ups. I started dancing in my teens and when I fell in love with belly dance and West African Guinean dance. Years later my love of dance became so acute I started to pursue more classical training in ballet, modern, and improvisation. What was at first an honest pursuit of technical proficiency and further training became all consuming. I began to realize that having not started ballet from the age of 4 my body lacked the same range of motion as dancers who had been in classical training all their lives. Thus I turned to yoga.
My pursuit of yoga was an attempt to change my range of motion and to make up for what I honestly considered as "lost time." However, my range of motion hasn't significantly changed. Of coarse my body has opened up and changes are happening, but after years of both dance and yoga, I can honestly say certain parts of my body are anatomically tighter than other peoples. The the major value of yoga for me has been in having the permission to no longer believe that more range of motion will change anything. Who I am as a person will not be better for having more extension. My love of dance won't grow bigger. I won't experience greater compassion for others because of it. I wont even be that much better of a dancer for it. The point is no longer some fixed position in space.
What has changed is that I started to be quiet and grounded. This in fact has changed my dancing, but not in the way I intended. I find I am less goal oriented, and less concerned with where I'm going or how much I have improved. Instead, I am more clear headed. My mind wanders less in class and I am able to make subtle changes and connections in my body. As a perfumer I am more present and and more aware of myself. My message has changed form one of pure aesthetics, and into one of energetics. I find that in both watching and experiencing movement I am now more drawn to the moments of internal experience, and less to flashy and impressive things, though those are lovely as well. I am drawn to the subtle and nuanced and less to the extreme and forced.
It is for this shift that I am so grateful for yoga as a dancer, because it has nourished my passion. It has offered me my innocence back: I have permission from myself now to love what I love, and I am not being so driven by my desires and judgments around how that currently looks on the outside.
I am home in my body and able to breath and be there, regardless of my range of motion. This is the greatest gift to any dancer.
I am but a world, some flesh and bones to keep it in.