Is it just me, or do us yogis need to stop taking ourselves so seriously?
Lately I have found it’s pretty common to arrive at a class or workshop and see the yoga enthusiasts who have shown up early and begun what seem to be a warm up display before the class starts; doing their best to appear casual as they demonstrate their flexibility to the others in the room.
Wearing their best trendy yoga brand outfit, they peek out the corner of their eye to see if they’ve managed to create an audience for their ‘nonchalant’ stretch session.
When the class or workshop begins and everyone starts forcing and jamming themselves into the deepest variations of all the poses, while sweating and shaking their way through the sequence. Not to mention the side glances at the mats around them, checking to see if the person to the right of them managed to hold Bird of Paradise Pose longer than they did and feeling defeated if someone in front of them managed to get into a deeper bind than they could.
I must admit, I have been guilty of letting my ego creep onto my mat, but how we can we not begin to treat yoga like a competitive sport when there are actual yoga competitions these days? The International Yoga Asana Championship is a real thing—you can go and compete against other incredible yoga athletes who can do the most mind-blowing yoga poses you have ever seen.
Then there is the negative self-talk that can run rampant in our minds in these situations—telling us we should be able to hold Warrior III Pose as long as everyone else in the class, or that we will look silly if we rest in Child’s Pose when the person beside us hasn’t even broken a sweat.
Our mind habitually judges and critiques every aspect of every situation and for some reason we allow it to. What if we started to think of our bodies as our best friends? What if we showed them compassion and love and appreciation during our yoga practice? (better yet, every moment of the day!)
What if we just chilled out and stopped worrying about anything that was going on outside of our mat and just giggled at ourselves if we happen to fall out of Tree Pose? The perfect way to start practicing Ahimsa (the yoga philosophy of non-violence) is to begin by simply being kind to ourselves.
Let’s try to not get caught up in all this ‘competition’ and negativity but instead try to remember that the very essence of yoga is to create union within yourself—to bring your mind, body and spirit together as one.
Let’s all lighten up and get back to having a little fun! Relaxing into postures, focusing our attention on to our breath (rather than the people around us) and listening to our bodies as we let them guide us to the depth that we need to go in each pose.
If we take yoga—and ourselves in it—too seriously, then we are missing out on the very beauty of our practice. We are missing out on the connection, the growth and the yoga induced buzz that comes when we surrender to our practice and completely let go.
Author: Danique Hanson
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via the author