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Surprise Me


Chapter 2


Journal Entry - February 6th, 2011

At this point I don’t know enough details to know the exact procedure and timeline that’s in my future.  All I know is that I feel lost.  I feel scared.  I continue to process on a daily basis while also trying to maintain enough focus on what I’m doing right now as well.  I’ve found the pain more prevalent in my mind and harder to deal with.  It’s quite crazy to imagine I’ve been living with a pretty high degree of pain for so many years!  Now that I know the cause of it and the potential procedure involved in fixing it, the pain becomes a constant reminder of what’s to come. The pain itself somehow feels more unbearable than before. My emotions are constantly on edge.


Contradicting realities


January 20th, 2011

    I’ve been asked to teach yoga classes to the Timbers, Portland’s Major League Soccer Team.  They are doing pre-season training at the Adidas world headquarters, where I already teach Pilates and yoga.  Day One, I am greeted by the strength and conditioning coach who asks how I would like the room set up.  I indicate the best way to set up and we unroll a yoga mat for each player and one for me at the front of the class.

    I sit down on my mat and look out at the sea of 25 players and 10 coaches.  I suddenly realize that I’ve been so distracted lately that I forgot to be nervous!  I’m about to teach a class of extremely fit (some extremely attractive) pro-athletes.  Before I have a chance to let the intimidation get in my head, I begin class.      They are adorable!  Many are concerned about taking their socks off after having worked out all morning.  One of the players circles his mat multiple times, like a puppy, before coming to a seat.  Another is standing, looking at me attentively, until I make eye contact.  He puts his hands together and says “Namaste,” which comes out more as a question than a statement.  He is trying to follow appropriate yoga etiquette but seems unsure of what exactly it is.

    I find soccer players to be some of the most dynamic athletes out there.  They have speed, strength, agility, and are constantly moving on the field.  It is truly a pleasure and an honor to be teaching such a high caliber group.  Based on past teaching experience, I’ve determined that adding a little good-humored competition is a great way to motivate men.  Coming up right next to one of the players, I pop down into plank as I instruct.



“Find your plank.  Pull the navel into the spine supporting your weight from underneath.  Engage the quads, and really press the hands in to the floor to activate the chest.  Everything is active here, distributing the effort throughout the body....” I continue doing the movement exactly as I’m instructing them,“...Now bend the elbows, hugging them towards your ribcage, pause half way down...and press back up...again, going half way down and hold...and press up...“ I look to my side and smile innocently.  I do this every day and I’m not particularly struggling.  The player to my side has a look of pure concentration and his arms are shaking.  He might not be as entertained with my light-hearted competition as I am.  I sense his relief as I pop up just as easily as I had popped down, and move across the room.

    Later, we move into hand stands.  As a dancer having extensively studied movement, body mechanics, and the way the limbs connect to the core, I chose to do handstands specifically to challenge the players in how they use their bodies.  Putting all your weight in your hands requires strength in the arms and the core, and a trust in your ability to manage your own body weight.

    I simultaneously talk and demonstrate.  “So, you’re going to come on to your hands and feet just like this.  Bend your knees and send the hips up in the air.  I want your legs to stay bent and close to the core.”  While in a static moment on my hands I continue, “Use the power of your legs to get your hips centered over your shoulders like this.”

    I look out at the 25 faces that appear to be silently wondering if I’m a complete lunatic.  So I add,  “Think of it as an experiment! I don’t expect it to be perfect, nor necessarily graceful.  The idea is to find the connectivity of the upper and lower body, as well as observe how your body responds to unfamiliar movement.  And trust your body!  Ok, ready, set, go...”

    After a well received Savasana (corpse pose), I think class has gone well and I’m relieved.  I’m standing at the front of class answering questions when the head coach, John Spencer, comes up to me and says, “I just have to ask, how are you so RIPPED?”  I look over my right shoulder, over my left shoulder, to confirm the question was indeed directed to me.  I’m completely stumped at what to say and as I’m trying to come up with any sort of response, he proceeds to ask about my workout regiment...what cardio I do, what I eat.  He’s actually serious, he thinks I’m in phenomenal shape!  It’s an enormous compliment coming from the head coach of pro-athletes.

    Driving home after class, I just start sobbing.  Underneath there is a rush of devastation.  I am strong, fit, able to do many physically impressive things.  If you didn’t know I was having complications with my body, you never would have guessed it watching me.  Am I really willing to give all that up (even if just for a short time if you consider the grand scheme of things)? And considering the risks, is surgery the best choice?

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