My husband is incredibly competitive. He’s the youngest of three boys, with brothers who are seven and nine years older than he is. He’s a type A personality, which plays into it. And just being a guy could be a contributing factor too. When we started doing yoga together several years ago, he would tell me after each class if he won or not. I found the idea incredibly amusing, bordering on the absurd. And though he would say it with a smile, there was an element of seriousness to it. For Tim, winning meant never resting in Child’s pose, doing every single part of the flow full on, and basically kicking ass the entire class.
I’m not very competitive, but as I thought more about this idea I realized that I can let this win or lose attitude come into my own practice. I’m just a little sneakier about it. When I see another yogi in an advanced version of a pose I struggle with, I can let that suck away any joy I might have in my own practice. It shows up in forward fold poses when I’m scanning the room to see who’s more folded than I am. And because for my entire life I’ve wanted to be a dancer, full Hanuman (front splits in non-yoga speak) is oh so hard on my very fragile ego. Because to my eyes, everyone does it better than I do.
Ego is really what it comes back to. Of course yoga is not a competitive sport. But my ego really can turn it into one so easily. What’s the solution? As usual it’s simple and basic. I’ve never heard a teacher at Spotted Dog say, “scan the room to see who’s doing the pose better than you are,” but I’ve certainly heard, “focus your gaze.” I can also tap into my tapas (discipline) and like they used to say in school, keep my eyes on my own paper.
A change in perspective can make all the difference too. Seeing someone in an advanced pose can be inspirational, right? I’ve been told that the only valid comparison is where you used to be and where you are now. Truth is, if I’m on my yoga mat, I’m already winning and so are you!
See you on the mat,