When I was in the third grade, there was this girl I thought was super cool in the grade above, and she played lacrosse. So obviously, I had to play lacrosse the following spring. And with that impetuous decision, I joined the team and for ten years, lacrosse was my constant. Coaches changed, players quit, and competition got more intense, but the sport was the same.
When high school graduation rolled around, and it was time to move onto college, the idea of continuing with lacrosse in college did not even cross my mind. For some reason, ten years of practice and countless shots just stopped. In the absence of lacrosse, and with the proximity of free workout classes at the Plex, I soon found myself immersed in an activity on the opposite side of the exercise spectrum: yoga.
Changing my physical activity not only changed my schedule, but also the way I approached life.
In yoga, a large emphasis is placed on “do what feels good,” and “do what you want to do because it is your practice.” I think my high school lacrosse coach would keel over and die if he heard those phrases. Lacrosse practices were planned, minute-by-minute. Putting in every ounce of effort was a requirement, not a suggestion. There was no time to lie on the ground and clear our minds in lacrosse, even our stretches were on the move.
Lacrosse taught me discipline in a way yoga likely never will. With any varsity sport, high school or college level, the practice and game schedule is demanding and oftentimes does not cater to your academic or (sometimes more important) social schedule. Time management was of a different caliber during team sports, it wasn’t, “oh I have a test tomorrow, I won’t go to yoga tonight.” It was “oh, I have a test tomorrow and we have a game an hour away tonight that I can’t miss.” I was committed to the team, and with that commitment came attending every game and practice on the schedule.
While yoga does not require a certain amount of practices, I soon found an inner drive to keep going to classes. Each class, as long as I put in the effort, allows me to get closer to mastering a pose, gaining strength, or becoming more flexible.
Every single class I go to, there is always someone who can out-yoga me. I think this competitive nature of practice comes from my background in competitive sports. I have this mindset that I need to keep working at yoga to get better than the girl next to me. With this mindset that lacrosse ingrained in me, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand yoga.
Yoga is humbling in this sense. Old grandmas and middle-age women alike have far more focus and drive than me. Oftentimes, I sit on my bottom while they gracefully head into headstands and acrobatic balances. On the lacrosse field, I’m pretty sure I could sprint easily past them and score a goal. But what’s the good of that?
The independence that yoga gives is nothing like team sports. In yoga, if you master a pose or balance, you’re an expert. You will continually be able to come back to it. For team sports, you can practice a certain shot thousands of times and still screw it up when the pressure of an actual game hits. Take professional basketball players missing free throws, for example. They practice them for years, and yet will never make free throws 100% of the time. That’s the excitement and entertainment that millions pay to watch annually--the spontaneity and the possibility of failure.
In lacrosse, stress and anxiety ran high before big games and state tournaments. The only way to release the swelling urge I had to unleash energy was to get on the field and play. Sweaty and out of breath, I never liked being called out during a game. I knew I could do more. This runs true for my yoga and practice as well. Each time I leave, I know when I go back, I can do more. I know I look at others with a sense of wonder and doubt I will ever reach their level. Just like in team sports, whoever practices more and is more committed will see a better result.
The two activities, while different in almost every sense, have both taught me commitment and resilience. They have taught me to accept that where I am physically is certainly okay, but there is constant room for improvement. The teamwork aspect of lacrosse taught me loyalty, while the independence of yoga continually teaches me cognizance of self. These two distinctive types of physical activity have not only formed me physically, but they continue to form me who I am as a person, no matter if I like it or not.
My experience with transitioning from one sport to the next has taught me the importance of venturing outside my comfort zone when it comes to physical activity. It is important to recognize the positive attributes that come with taking risks regarding exercise. We are often told to try new things when it comes to clubs or classes, but I’ve found that some of the most rewarding lessons I’ve learned have come with trying new things in terms of physical activity.