Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inspiring 2010 Olympic stories

Athletes who win medals may appear to have it all - the glory, the talent and the gift of loving what they do. But there are stories behind each performance that show the adversities that many athletes had to overcome to achieve their goals.

Just two before her free style Olympic skating event, Joannie Rochette's mother unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Joannie was struggling emotionally before she got on the ice, but she was able to dig deep inside to use her mother as an inspiration and give a brilliant performance. She won the bronze medal. At the end of her skate, Joannie blew a kiss to the sky and her sadness touched the hearts of the audience who could feel her pain.

Six weeks before the Olympic snowboardcross event, Sean Wescott couldn’t even walk. In December he’d jammed his femur into his pelvis in a crash on the slopes that left him debilitated and in terrible pain. His low seeding in the Olympic event was another disadvantage. Through most of the course Seth was in last place, biding his time, and looking for his opportunity. His lagging gap would have caused most to give up, but he was able to stay focused and found the right moment to make his move and win the gold medal against all odds.

As a child Shaun White had a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, requiring two major surgeries. He also had to wear leg braces to correct severe bow-leggedness. He began snowboarding at age 6 and with the dedicated support from his parents, incredible drive and determination, he ultimately won gold medals in two consecutive Olympics.

Practicing yoga may present obstacles that are difficult to overcome. Tight hamstrings, quads and hips make many poses difficult. Just calming the mind and focusing on the breath is a challenge for most. But these obstacles can be viewed as opportunities to create more openness, strength and deeper focus. Yoga is about the union of opposites. It is about calming the mind and using the breath to find power and tranquility. It is about pulsing between difficulty and peacefulness. It is about acceptance and pushing and redefining our edges.

Life is not always easy. Most people have their share of hardships, some more than others. How we use these hardships determines whether we let the suffering overwhelm us or inspire us to dig deeper into who we are and what we can achieve. Let the Olympians inspire you. Know that life will have challenges but it has its victories as well.

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