a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Archive for May 16, 2013

Humility and Hamstrings

< by Jill >

In about a month, I’ll graduate from my second post-graduate education program. I won’t get a cap, gown, or diploma, but rather a cup of punch and a group hug. Along with 18 other yogis, I’ll attain the title “Registered Yoga Instructor.”

It will be the first time I graduate at the bottom of the pack.

In high school, I ranked among the top ten, which included three young women who earned perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT. In college, I graduated in the top five percent and wore the pink and blue tassels of Phi Beta Kappa. I matched this level of achievement in grad school, all while teaching full time.

Yoga school has been different. It has been humbling. I have learned that I’m knit together tightly, and though it makes me a great runner, it fundamentally inhibits my progress as a yogini.

Throughout yoga training, I’ve sat through many classes in which the teachers apply the term “beginner” to students like me, who are not really beginners. I’ve struggled through many sessions in which my knees won’t bend that way, my hamstrings won’t stretch that far, and my shoulders won’t broaden that much.

I’ve had loud, screaming fights with my body—loud, screaming, internal fights that rattle my organs and send fear into my bones. I’ve chided my hamstrings to the point of pain. I just want them to conform. I just want them to do what everyone else’s hamstrings are doing.

They refuse—they cannot.
When I peel back my ego, a different voice emerges. It says, “Yoga is happening on the inside.” It’s a warm hug of a thought. The truth is always like that.

When I graduate, I’ll get the same certification as everyone else, but my road will be different. I’ll probably never be on the cover of Yoga Journal, and I’ll probably never teach at the best studios. My ego — that greedy, roaring motor — still rejects this. But my mind and heart are still with it. They insist that acceptance is the greatest of all my accomplishments. My hamstrings agree.