Easing Myself into the Position
Before coming to college, my sole experience with yoga involved renting a VHS tape from the library and watching as a tiny man gracefully supported his body in a one-handed handstand. His voiceover encouraged me, once I was ready, to simply “ease myself into the position.” And that was the beginner tape! Needless to say, I hit the eject button and thought that I would never willingly attempt yoga again.
However, when I entered college, I realized that yoga was immensely popular among college students. At first, I worried that I had gone to the wrong school. Surely, I wouldn’t fit in with these freakishly flexible circus performers. Always the good student, I quickly discovered that the yoga my fellow students were practicing was very different than the so-called “yoga” maneuver I had witnessed previously. Intrigued, I registered for a yoga class for physical education credit, donned my cool new stretchy yoga pants, and prayed that I would never be asked to perform the dreaded one-hand handstand.
Who’d have thought? But now, this I believe: I believe in flexibility. Not just the physical flexibility required to perform advanced yoga postures (yes, that is a side benefit), but the mental flexibility that allowed me to reconsider yoga. Along with plank pose, the cobra, and warrior stance, my yoga instructor has taught me the greater importance of not limiting the mind through rigidity. Once the class has reached a pose in which we are all comfortably balanced and have closed our eyes, he repeats his personal mantra, a mantra that requires great mental flexibility in our tightly wound society. He says, “Enjoy your abilities. Honor your limitations.”
I believe in this motto because it leaves room for improvements. It teaches me to respect my weaknesses while still striving to improve. It is not pushing me toward a goal with a deadline, but rather, encouraging me to celebrate my accomplishments along the way. Just like in yoga, some days I can stretch myself to do so many tings, and others, I have trouble getting out of bed and touching my toes. Whereas, that fact used to haunt me, now I realize that there is a range in which I can perform. Some days, I am simply more flexible than others. But it is my mental flexibility that allows me to simultaneously enjoy my abilities and honor my limitations, even if I can’t bend over backwards that day. Perhaps the yoga instructor from the VHS tape had it right all along. Once I’m ready, I will ease myself into the position.
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