She was torn, she told me, because her love for me was rivaled only by her unadulterated hatred of yoga.
I had invited my sister to come to my “final exam”, the full length class I taught at the end of my yoga teacher training program. The night before the class, she and my husband came to my graduation ceremony. They were both quite gracious, keeping the incredulous smirking to a bare minimum through an evening of clapping, chanting, singing, and dancing.
Raquel eats meat, but she ate quite happily from the vegetarian buffet. She was only put off by the fact that half of the cupcakes were left unfrosted (as was I, to be frank, we are a highly dessert-focused family). Only a hint of a giggle passed over her face when I explained the mala and the little crystal my teachers had given me. What a trooper!
But attend a yoga class? She loves me, to be sure, but she had already gone down that dark road…
We started yoga at the same time. Years ago, my mom put mats and class cards under the Christmas palm tree (we were in Miami) and the three of us trotted off to our first class. We became regulars to an evening class, and, since we had just moved to Miami from Brazil, we found our lithe little Brazilian teacher totally enchanting.
Well, Mom and I did. Quel got progressively more worked up by the whole operation, finally confessing that even the thought of yoga actually made her feel stressed. She was a high strung kid to begin with, but yoga really put her over the edge.
I’m a fan of yoga and persistently try to share it with my family and friends, but it doesn’t bother me that my sister doesn’t like what I like. She prefers to run actually, an activity that I find immensely unpleasant. Happily, we are neither of us so defined by our likes and dislikes that our preferences alienate us. That sounds obvious, but it isn’t. There are plenty of people in the world who have so strongly tied themselves to a list of activities or interests that they forget how to relate to people with different lists.
Yoga, as it happens, is not about whether or not you will stretch on a mat for 90 minutes. It’s about looking outside of yourself, about finding something that transcends your self-conscious perceptions and connects you to something bigger, more universal. However much I love yoga, I hope to never mistake my own interests for the “right” way. I hope to never assume that I have found “the” answer when all I have found is my own answer.
So my nearest and dearest and I don’t have to share all of our interests. No interest or hobby or doctrine that demands the hearts and souls of everyone you know is really worth it anyway.
I don’t really care how she feels about yoga as long as my sister loves me.