Imagining the Splits


Photo by Robert Bejil under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

I’ve been doing some form of yoga or pilates to varying levels of intensity and regularity for the past 20 years, but one thing has remained constant:  I’ve never been able to do the splits.  I’ve never been close.  In fact, it makes me laugh to even imagine myself doing the splits.  Sometime I catch a glance of someone in a class who seems to effortlessly slide down into the splits and I’m both in awe and mystified. Are they made of rubber??  I just can’t quite imagine my body… er, flexing that way.  I’m a runner. I have tight hamstrings. I’m just not built that way, etc.  etc.  All the reasons I’ve given myself over the years to explain why I’ll never be able to do the splits.

But these days, I’m trying to change that story. For in my current splits practice at The Dailey Method, I’ve discovered that a big part of this practice extends beyond the physical act of lengthening my hamstrings and inching my way closer to the floor.  It’s about trying to change the chatter inside my head. I try to let go of all the reasons and stories I’ve told myself about why I’ll never be able to do the splits.

My inspiration for this came from my kids. I realize I ask my kids to do this all the time: I ask them to try new things again, to try new foods, even if they didn’t like them last week.  Our tastes change.  We change.  You may not like cauliflower today, I say, but you might next time.  “Say, I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am”

And then there’s the art and persistence of practice. I’ve watched up-close the frustration of my kids learning new things.  And the utter joy of watching them master them. But between these points is a vast sea of practice, of time,  of frustration, sweat and tears.  As a parent, I’m trying to teach them the importance and even the joy in practice.  And I’m trying to live that myself.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed exploring Give it 100, inspired by one woman’s experience documenting herself learning to dance in a year. I love this crowd-sourced project because it celebrates the beauty of practice and the process of learning.  We live in a world that’s programmed to expect change instantly — through glossy before and after stories in fashion magazines, home makeovers perfectly executed in a 30-minute show.  Not shown is the planning, hard work, the mishaps, the practice.

I may never be able to do the splits.  And that’s ok.  But I’m going to go to my next Dailey Method class with an open mind and heart (and hopefully that will translate to open hamstrings!) And I’m going to imagine myself doing the splits.



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