Competition and comparison. We all do it, especially in the beginning of our journey into yoga. In this world how can we not compare and compete, when that's all our society does. Think about it for a minute. Ever have a conversation about something you enjoy only to have the other person try to "one up" you with their favorite? It just happened the other day, I heard two people talking about two different Hy-Vee locations. One couldn’t believe that the other liked her Hy-Vee better and it became a comparison as to why one was better than the other. Silly, but try to think of one thing we don’t compare or compete.
So back to my point. Yoga is one of the best methods to learn to connect with yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually. That’s the definition of yoga. The first time we step on the mat we may have reservations or even feel a little intimidated by our “view” of yoga based on some comparisons we see in the media. We look around the room and watch the teacher as well as the seasoned yogis next to us and we compare, even when the teacher tells us not to. What happens is, through the practice we begin to release and naturally start to turn inward. The magic begins when it isn’t about “look at me” yoga, but “look within” yoga.
So the question is, what if that doesn’t happen for some people? If someone has a difficult time letting go of attachment to the physical poses in class, it’s most likely because they are competing either with themselves or with others. It becomes “look at me” yoga. Let me explain. Imagine yourself in a pose with your eyes closed. For the first part of the pose the teacher gives you cues to move into your pose. Words that help you to FEEL the pose. To be PRESENT in the pose. Imagine now you are alone and with your eyes closed you can see yourself in the expression of the pose. As you breathe you allow the practice to take place. Now, you have not only performed an asana, you have felt it body, mind and spirit. It becomes your practice and there is no comparison.
For some, yes, this may never happen. I’ve seen it before. It’s easy to spot the physical agitation of someone having difficulty holding a pose and being present in the UN-comfort. After one or two classes they move on. But I have also watched deep healing take place when a student embraced the UN-comfort, time and time again, only to find more peace in connection with their true self. This is when we begin to take our practice OFF the mat.
So, 600 words later, back to comparison. I struggle with this. Not really on my mat, but I did start there when I was a new student. Now, it is more about how do I set myself apart in the ever populated world of yoga teachers, and “McYoga” studios on every corner like McDonalds. If I’m writing from my heart, and keeping it real, I will say, it’s tough. Every day it seems like yoga is becoming more and more just another physical exercise. You could probably practice an entire year hopping from one Groupon to the next for some cheap yoga. And for many that is exactly what they’ll do.
I spoke to my teacher and mentor, Suzette Scholtes, who has been in business since the early 80’s and she sees it too. It can be challenging to stand out and set ourselves apart as educators, when it’s basically becoming yoga aerobics.
When she said that, it really struck a chord in me. I am an EDUCATOR, not just a teacher. My training and my teaching style is different. I was called to this dharma to help people heal through yoga by uncovering their true self. It really is that simple. When I come back to my dharma, then it all falls into place. I cannot “tuck the fringe” to fit into the current yoga climate and I don’t want to. For three years I have grown organically and that is what I choose to do. I’ve have been offered some great advice and some not so great advice. I’ve gotten off track a few times because I moved away from my dharma for a second trying to please others, but quickly I returned. What is mine to do and what is it true to my dharma is the work I do every day. I am proud of who I am and that I am unique. For the first time in my life I am not going to “Tuck the Fringe”. I am going to continue to let my unique qualities come through as an educator and share my passion with you ON and OFF the mat.