Getting Personal: Humility

Once I fell flat on my face.  I literally tripped over nothing and landed on my stomach.  I don’t know why my hands weren’t there to catch me.  This was pretty humiliating.  This post is about my struggles with humility, not the kind imposed on you by embarrassment  but rather the more subtle need to be the best.  

Earlier today I posted a prayer I like to say to myself before class.  This prayer is all about humility, about humbling myself to a power greater than myself. I must put my ego aside and let the ancient knowledge speak and breathe through me.  Because yoga is a service provided through me by a power greater than myself. This is what I believe.

Believing this is easy.  Living this, opening up and surrendering myself to this service, is much more difficult.  It is terrifying to my ego, that tiny mad voice inside all of us that usually does not speak very kindly, that I give up control.  Should I choose to do this, should I choose to surrender, “I” cannot take credit for the class.  “I” cannot take credit for anything.  That is terrifying because the ego lives off of praise and adoration.

However, what this ego of mine does not understand is that I don’t need credit for the class.  Each and every time someone says “I loved your class.” or “You are a great teacher.”  it is an affirmation of this higher service.  It is the ruler by which I can measure my effectiveness.  It lets me know that I helped someone, or rather God helped them through me.

I fully admit that I am not able to enter my class with humility each and every day.  Today I was proud to hear some of the clients were excited I would be teaching.  When it turned out I was not, that a new teacher would be taking the class for the day I was worried.  Then I became a bit angry when the class went well.  I felt out-shined, unneeded.  I didn’t want them to like her better.  When in reality it is what is best for the people.  For them to experience new teachers and new styles of yoga.  Still there was a twinge of “I want to be liked.”

Often, I take a class from a fantastic teacher and I am jealous of their ability to string together a fresh and different sequence.  I berate myself for not having the creativity.  There are other times when I become too focused on making the clients happy.  I see a woman who could compete in the yoga olympics and I am intimidated into randomly adding compass pose or trying to “kick everyone’s ass”.

In all these instances I move away from my authenticity.  I get caught up in being what someone else wants, or worse in just wanting to be someone else. Humility is all about authenticity.  When we are able to get past the ego and dig deep into our heart-mind, that is when we achieve humility.  That is when we allow our soul, the soul given us by God and shared with each and every living being, to shine.  I know that when I show up with the intention to serve, everyone will get the class they NEED, regardless of what they thought they wanted.

So everyday I say this prayer.  Every day I work towards letting go and just being myself.  Everyday I work to share this being with the rest of the world.  Each one of us has a beautiful teacher inside, including me!


Nothing is more humbling than rolling out of headstand.  And having it captured on camera!
Nothing is more humbling than rolling out of headstand. And having it captured on camera!

2 thoughts on “Getting Personal: Humility

  1. Wow. I absolutely struggle with this. I love when my students tell me that they loved my class or something great about something I did for them. It’s hard to remember sometimes that teaching yoga isn’t about the teacher at all!

    1. I think it’s ok to feel good when someone says you’re doing great! The problem I have seen in myself and other teachers (especially new ones) is they then let it go to their heads and think they know it all. I am guilty of this. It is a form of judging, and it is something I work towards dispelling. It’s tough!

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