Balancing Act

By Lawrence Fatica
January 12, 2016

I don’t remember what first motivated me to try yoga, but I know what made me stick with it. It felt good to stretch. There was something oddly satisfying about sore muscles. It made me a little less crazy, though others might debate this. Around the same time I started yoga I took my first human osteology course. Equipped with my new anatomical knowledge, the yoga room became my laboratory. It was common for me to forget to come out of a posture because I was distracted trying to figure out exactly which shoulder muscle was on fire or marveling at how the same adaptations of the pelvis that allow me to walk on two legs also allow me to balance on one leg while the rest of my body did weird stuff.

I did a lot of yoga and I got pretty good. I trained for and won the Arizona Yoga Asana Championship in 2012 (competitive yoga may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a thing) and then moved on to the National Yoga Asana Championship in New York. I fell in my first posture, which is the kiss of death in competitive yoga, but getting upset over losing at yoga sort of defeats the point. The point is getting back up, unfazed, and finishing what you started. There was still a lot to be happy about. I was pushing the limits of what my body—the product of millions of years of evolution—and my determination were able to do.

I don’t do very much yoga these days (I should, but you know how New Year’s resolutions go). My body can’t do many of the things it used to, but the love for anatomy and movement that hooked me is still alive and well. Some of the lessons I learned from yoga have even found relevance in grad school. Whether it’s being intellectually pummeled by comprehensive exams or wiping out on stage in your underwear, the best response to adversity is the same: dust yourself off, take a deep breath, and get right back at it.