Keeping the Faith This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 25, 2012
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To say that the studio was “hot” would be an understatement. Heat radiated out of the panels on the ceiling, rose up from the floorboards, saturated the air around me. My clothes clung to my body. Even more than I wanted to close my eyes so that the sweat streaming down my face wouldn’t flood them, I wanted to know how much longer I would have to endure this torture called hot yoga. I glimpsed the clock through my blurred vision – 59 more minutes left. I cannot do this.
“Next posture, my beautiful yogis!” called out my teacher. The time had come for the dreaded Dancer’s Pose, the posture that I could never perform in full expression because of the crookedness in my weak left knee. Well today, that would change. A flame of resolve sparked within me. I have to do this.
I raised my hand out to the side, my elbow bent and my palm facing up. I shifted my weight over to my left leg and tightened my left knee. I kicked my right foot up and grabbed my instep, my calf pressed to the back of my thigh. I flung my left arm up high, my bicep pressed to my left ear. Here I go. I kicked my right leg back as hard as I possibly could as I extended my body forward, lowering it closer to the ground. I contracted my left knee with all the strength that I could muster, and just when I thought that I couldn’t hold the posture any longer, I pulled even harder. Tremors of effort racked my body, and every shaking muscle screamed for relief. In the mirror, I saw my right foot aligned six inches above my head.
Then I thought that I noticed something else. I squinted my eyes, trying to see clearer through the sweaty haze. Sure enough, my left knee was locked, ramrod straight.
A new kind of moisture pricked my eyes. I had achieved what I had been working toward every single day, as hard as I could, as long as I could, for the past eighteen months. Keep the faith, keep the faith, I had chanted to myself during every ballet class and every yoga class. The physical therapist whom I had spent every Saturday night seeing, the late nights that I had spent on my bedroom floor with exercise bands, the agonizing splits that I had forced myself into after every ballet class – it had all been worth it.
I felt a smile creep onto my face. Now, the fire of motivation roared within me, and the energy of accomplishment coursed through my veins, for I had done what I never thought I could do. Suddenly, I could bear the burn in every engaged, aching muscle. I stared myself straight in the eye and stretched my arm out of its socket, reaching for my reflection. After all, anything is possible.

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