Confessions Of An Olympian Turned Yogi

Jamie Silverstein
Confessions Of An Olympian Turned Yogi

I grew up figure skating. And, not your frozen-lake-Christmas-time figure skating. I grew up training to be an Olympian. I traded training for well... pretty much everything. I made a home in the rink and in the external body, chasing perfection under a fluorescent glow and Russian tongue. I was my body and my body was on a mission. I would be the girl who was a beautiful Ice Dancer.

Then one day, I made it. The years of training and self-denial amounted to a country’s collective dream. I became an Olympian.

The Cost Of Excellence

It was only years (and many yoga practices) later that I realized that the girl I became came with at a personal cost. When you live and breathe one thing, other things get stifled. Unfortunately, this is how it usually works. If you want to exceed at your career what compromises are you (willingly or latently) making personally? If you choose a love, what does that mean for your other passions? What allowances will you make in the quest called: ‘following your dreams’?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I made my choices willingly and I do not regret them. Not. One. Bit. Skating and training has been the most defining, empowering, insane, balls-out-thrilling time of my life. Skating afforded me the chance to surpass my expectations and live a dream! But, what Olympic skating also necessitated included an abstraction of self; most high performance athletics do. Excellence came with a personal price-tag: the permission to be fallible.

This Is Why I Practice

Fast-forward eight years—As I learn more about my unique needs and abilities, I learn about me. I am undeniably not in the same shape I was when I skated (ask me about this sometime!) but I am also undeniably more humanely myself. Learning and loving yoga has transformed my relationship with my body from: being my body to sweetly inhabiting it. For this, I am truly grateful.

Yoga offers me a chance to know and love myself. In my practice, I work to dissolve my learned rhetoric, physical patterning, and the ghostly needed for a big brother critique. I practice fitting into a pose instead of perfecting it. The more things feel like they fit me, the more I can feel beautiful as me. We all can practice to fit more into ourselves.

So as we gear up to cheer the athletes at Sochi (Go Team USA!), let us admire their dedication and perseverance to excellence. Let us celebrate them! And, let us remember they are humans too.