I was sitting on the beach this morning, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a paddleboarder? This young man glided through the sun-dappled ocean, posture perfectly straight. I see these specimens, male and female, often at the shore, and every time I do, a devilish part of me urges, “Fall! Go on, fall! That’s what I would do!” But they stay upright, every last one, until they make a graceful descent at the end of their ride. I don’t seriously wish to paddleboard, but I would love to balance as effortlessly as these athletes do. However, at 62, I fear that ship (or paddleboard) has sailed. I have a lousy sense of balance. Which was proven again moments later as I struggled (gracelessly) to stand up (darn those low slung beach chairs!)
The few times I attempted to ride a bike as a child, I simply could not stop wobbling, then crashing. Wobble, crash. Wobble, crash. Finally I decided that I had invested quite enough money in Bandaids, and abandoned the pursuit. But there remained many situations when I would need to maintain equilibrium. The balance beam in gym class (to this day I break into a cold sweat watching gymnasts on TV, recalling my hapless attempts to navigate the beam). My doomed ballet lessons, trying to locate a focal point for my spot turns and stumbling dizzily all over the studio instead.
Yoga has been a persistent problem for me. Mind you, nowadays I only attend class in the summers on the beach because (trade secret) when you do balance poses you can dig your standing foot into the sand for more support! Try doing that on a wooden floor! But still, after our breathing and our twists and our downward dogs, I dread the teacher’s chipper announcement that we will now work on balance. She reminds us that, as we all age, we will be much more at risk of falling if we don’t practice staying upright. The specter of breaking a hip carrying groceries from the car someday (soon) is enough for me to at least try. My nemesis is Tree Pose, where one leg is planted and the other is lifted and somehow nestled into the other thigh, all while waving arms in the air like a tornado-tossed coconut palm. I dig the supporting leg a good 12 inches down in the sand, and still can’t lift leg #2 an iota without collapsing in a disheveled heap.
Summer is drawing to a close, and with it my annual yoga practice. Next year, I vow, will be different (why? Who knows?) I will magically master Tree Pose, to the awe of my classmates. But next July, to be on the safe side, I will purchase the kind of beach chair my Nana had back in the day—a high and stable perch that is easy to gracefully rise from.
You know. Just like the 90 year olds use. You got a problem with that?