Personal Story on an Existential Crisis
It was 10:30 a.m. and I was still in bed one Tuesday morning. I had no desire to get up. Zero motivation.
This was my scenario for a few weeks.
I moved to New York for a Professional Training Program at Steps on Broadway. I’ve always loved to dance and my goal was to train hard in the two year program and eventually audition all around the city to get paid to do what I loved. Even if it was an Off-Off-Off Broadway show, it would’ve still been a dream.
The first year of the program has been one of the highlights of my life. Living in NYC, taking in all the city has to offer, and being in dance class and rehearsals every day. I did ballet, jazz, contemporary, musical theater, everything. My day started at 10:00 a.m. and ended at 8:00 p.m. I danced between 7 to 8 hours a day and loved it. I couldn’t get enough of dance.
So how did I find myself so unmotivated a year later?
Well, I got injured. I was in contemporary class, did a relevé (which means going up on your toes) and I felt something in my knee pop. It hurt. A lot.
I thought it was temporary. I rested and took the next day off. Which I mistakenly thought would be enough. But the day I was supposed to come back, the pain was there and worse.
This went on for a while.
Eventually I had to take a month off. I really wanted it to heal and thought the only way was to rest completely. At first it was fine; you know watching T.V., reading, stuff I hadn’t been able to do. I went out with my friends without the pressure of I have to wake up early and dance my butt off all day lurking at the back of my mind.
Well, my knee never healed. Even when I went back, it didn’t feel the same.
I went to physical therapy religiously for a year, did the exercises… It was disheartening to find out that my knee pulled because of misalignment that started in my hip. Basically I had to change the way I walked and moved. Easyyyy…
It’s a challenge for your mind and emotional state to realize that you basically have to re-learn how to walk and stand.
After a few months, I continued the program and tried to dance maybe not 8 hours a day but definitely 5. My knee was still tender and I couldn’t do a full ballet class- no jumping. I also couldn’t do anything full-out. This was soul-crushing. Especially to a girl where her thing in dance was throwing herself in the movement with abandonment. That was my thing. I didn’t have perfect technique or body type, but I definitely had the passion and fearlessness to just move as if my life depended on it. So after I couldn’t do that, I felt like I had nothing to give anymore.
It was a physical and emotional rollercoaster. I had one good day and my knee would hurt the next. Basically it felt like I would never heal and never go back to the way it was.
Well, this went on for more than a year.
The psychological nature of not feeling like myself in dance took its toll. I felt way behind the other girls in the program who were able to give it their all and advance. Me, I was not advancing. Just lingering.
I finished the program, but obviously not the way I wanted.
Fast forward to lying in bed with no motivation to do anything.
What was I going to do now?
It took a while for me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. And New York is no easy place to be in this state.
What do you do when you have a dream. Spend years going after it. And suddenly you have to have a new dream in order to feel worthy?
I eventually got a job still related to ballet but it was a desk job. For the first time in my life I was going to have to learn to sit still. No wonder I have complexions about my age. I retired before I even started and went straight into a job that dance retirees go when they’re in their mid-30s. Except I went ten years earlier. And I stopped dancing completely. Not even as a hobby.
I faced the fact that my day to day life consisted of sitting in a chair in front of a computer. And I faced daily existential questions.
I still didn’t feel like myself. Something was missing.
Until one day I took a yoga class. I had taken yoga as a supplement to my dance training. But never by itself. After that day, I began seeing it as a practice. A habit. And suddenly something inside me shifted and I began to feel like myself again.
I eventually got out of bed with purpose again.
I never knew why I felt so different until two days ago that I was in class and a friend was observing.
“I’ve never seen this approach to yoga before, but your practice looks like you’re expressing yourself. Like you’re performing choreography. It looks like you never stopped dancing; you just fueled it right into your yoga flow.”
It all clicked.
Three years ago, yoga got me out of bed. I approached my daily life and my job differently because of it.
And now I just completed my initial 200 Hour Teacher Training and I am on the path for the 500 Hour Certification.
And yes, as cheesy as it sounds, I learned that when one door closes, another door opens.
I will keep creating dances within my yoga flows and will hopefully provide the space for other people to do the same through my teaching.
So my mission is Yoga for Expression.