Every year, about this time, a certain type of person starts showing up in yoga class.
Maybe it's their New Year's resolution. Maybe they're detoxing. Whatever. But generally, they aren't there to chill out. They eye up everyone else as they walk into the yoga room. They spend most of their class craning their necks to see what everyone is doing. They groan, grunt, fling up into handstands and are not particularly concerned with ujjayi breathing. I don't want to overgeneralize here, but they also tend to wear their Miami marathon shirts.
This is the person who firmly believes that they will WIN AT YOGA.
I get it, I really do.
Shit, my last post (which was very long ago and I do apologize for my recent lack of writing) was all about ego. We all have one, for our benefit and detriment. Our ego is a powerful driving force, propelling us to do amazing things. It also wants us to be better than you are at handstand.
And as much as I stress staying present on your own mat in class, it's not exactly that simple. This is the practice. The not pushing, the not straining - it must be learned. Focusing instead on moving with more finesse, finding new rough edges to smooth, refining our ability to find ease in our breath and our bodies at all moments. This is not easy work. This is years in the making.
I remember when I first started seriously practicing, like 7-ish years ago, I would force my way into poses, often to the detriment of my body. I might have made it into bound half moon, but I definitely wasn't breathing. Once the poses got easier, then I worked on making smoother transitions - moving from that half moon to standing split gracefully, instead of my leg sling-shoting back behind me once I released the grip. Then it became the breath and choosing pose variations where I could stay steady with my inhales and exhales. And finally, probably about a year or so ago, when the asana practice stopped being so important, I stopped giving so many shits about what other people thought and started staying on my mat. And I still have a lifetime of learning to go.
Winning at yoga isn't about being the best poser in the room.
It's about being the most real and authentic you in the room.
Yoga is a humbling practice and a constant reminder to let go of the comparison, let go of the proving, let go of being perfect. When we can realize that the letting go is the winning, that we are all in this life game together, peeling back to the layers to discover the best version of ourselves... then we have really won.