“You’re in the front row!” My yoga instructor said to me as she walked into class one day recently.
When I was seven years old, my mom put me in a ballet class, just like thousands of other seven year-old girls.
I will always remember one day of class in particular. We were learning to do headstands (I’m still not sure why we were doing headstands in ballet but what do I know?) and when it was my turn I could not get my legs over my head. The teacher tried to pull them up but it was just not happening.
That day has always stuck in my mind, not only because I couldn’t do the headstand, but because I remember hearing all the other little girls in the class giggling and whispering about me.
The seven year-old me felt humiliated. It was then that I declared myself uncoordinated and never took another dance or gymnastics class again.
At age 50, I started a yoga practice. It was suggested to me as a way to get in shape and also help heal my mind after the death of my husband.
There was something about yoga that I fell in love with immediately and truly enjoyed the classes. But that seven year-old girl was still inside me. My coordination had not improved in 43 years and I constantly found myself falling out of poses.
In my mind, the entire class was staring at me and they all got together after class to laugh about me.
Instead of quitting something I enjoyed, I tried to take instruction from my teacher who would give me helpful hints. I set up my mat in the back row, sometimes in the back corner so only a few were able to witness my mistakes and my loss of balance.
Three years later, I have come a long way. While I still lack in the coordination department, I found I am also flexible, and my flexibility is very useful in a yoga practice. I have also become more determined and don’t want to give up on something just because it is hard for me. Most importantly, yoga has given me the tools to help calm my often very worried mind.
Headstands and handstands are common in yoga. The second grade girl inside of me was afraid to even try one. If getting my little seven-year old body upside down was impossible back then, there was no way that my 50 year-old body could do it now. And I would definitely not be trying it in front of a class full of people who would laugh out loud, just like they did back in 1974.
I happily remained in the back row of class where I was comfortable, but I knew I was getting stronger, both mentally and physically. One day I decided to try a headstand in the comfort of my own home, against my bedroom wall. To my surprise, my legs went up and over my head on the first try.
I needed the wall for support, but I was doing a headstand!
After a few weeks of mastering my new skill in my bedroom, I was feeling confident enough to try it during class. The problem was, I still needed the wall for support, and the wall is at the front of the class. Do I dare risk being in the front row? While my headstand was going well, I still fell out of many poses. Everyone would see how uncoordinated I was. They would stare and laugh.
I decided to put my fears aside, so one day I walked into class and set up my mat in the front row.
As class was about to start, the instructor (who has seen my growth from my first day of class three years earlier) walked in. She took one look at me and exclaimed. “You’re in the front row!” She had a huge smile on her face. I smiled back.
“I have mastered a headstand and need the wall,” was my reply to her.
As class began, I thought to myself, “Is the headstand the only reason I am in the front row?”
The answer to my question was no. While my new skill gave me a concrete reason for needing the front row wall, my move meant so much more.
The truth is, the class is probably not laughing at me.
Everyone is concentrating on themselves and nobody pays that much attention to others in the class. And if anyone was laughing, so what? I fall sometimes, but the important thing is that I am there and that I try.
I am no longer a seven year-old girl. I am a 53 year-old woman with the confidence to make mistakes and keep moving forward. I am proud of my growth; in yoga, in my own life, and in my mind.
I happily remain in the front row and I am loving it up there.Read More From Stacy
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.