One of the things I love about powerlifting is the transfer of superpowers it grants me. It’s hard to undo a lifetime of feeling physically inferior, even though I know I can actually do some kind of bad-ass things now. So when I went into a hard-core hour and a half hot yoga class today I was a little intimidated by some of the people –especially one girl — that had that look. You know, the ‘I am a superior specimen and can do things you can only dream of’ look.
I’d chatted briefly with the instructor before going in, and told her when she asked what my usual workout was that I’m a powerlifter, so in addition to the apprehension at being new to the studio and this maybe my 3rd or 4th yoga class ever, I felt like I had to represent for my sport.
My friend from the gym, Jenna, who invited me to yoga, was luckily there for moral support. And for me to peek at when I didn’t know what the positions were as they were rattled off. I was pleased to be able to keep up, although I was not as bendy as the instructor and the teacher’s pet at the front of the room, and I hung with all but one of the balance poses (and I kept trying that one, even when some students sat that one out).
Then we got to the head and hands on the floor, knees on elbows pose. Despite how slippery my arms and legs were from the copious sweat, I got into that pose and held it. The super-yoga-girl up front raised her feet from that pose into a headstand. “Seriously?” I thought. Then Jenna did it too. The instructor, meanwhile, was encouraging those struggling with getting into the first position. I can’t resist a new challenge, so when I saw Jenna in a steady headstand, I thought ‘why not?’ and just lifted my knees from my elbows and locked my legs out straight overhead. Once I was there it was just a matter of staying balanced, and it was actually easier than the first part had been.
Then I realized the instructor was talking about me as she continued to encourage students to work their arms, regardless of whether they got into the pose. “Look at Dana,” she said. “She’s not even a yogi. She’s a powerlifter. This pose uses your tris and bis.” With the whole class looking, I couldn’t just flop back down from my experiment so I held it till I thought I shouldn’t keep letting the blood run to my head, and came back upright grinning like a fool.
A year ago not only would I have not made it through this class, I’d never have had the nerve to try something like that. Now I assume I can do anything I try, and just do it. Maybe sometimes I’ll fall, but that’s ok. So while I love my powers that let me do chin-ups and heavy squats, and evidently headstands, the greatest superpower I’ve gained of all is this ability — to feel limitless.