This morning I had to actively will myself into my yoga class, my bed was extra comfortable and I could have easily slept for another 2 or 3 hours without any problems. However I could feel the dull ache of my body letting me know, it needed to practice today… so I went. I rushed out of the house with 15 minutes to spare knowing that if I could get into class about 5 minutes early I would be able to find a spacious spot.
When I got to the studio there were only about 4 spots available with one right up front, it had the most room so I took it. I laid my mat down and as I was getting my props I over heard a woman hustling and bustling say “I need to hurry so I'm not stuck in the front!”. A smile radiated from my face because I knew exactly what she was avoiding, the pressure of the front row. The pressure of having to be seen the whole time because “everyone is watching the person in the front”. I took a moment to celebrate the fact that this, was no longer me. I no longer feared being in the front of the yoga studio, not because I have mastered all of the poses and become a supreme yogi, quite the opposite. I have finally come to terms with the fact that this is MY practice, and I am in a room full of people doing THEIR practice. What every other person in the room is thinking about me, is none of my business.
We live in a world of constant comparison and pushing to be “The Best”, from the famous people idolized in media to the best yogi in our Vinyassa class. Even in our spirituality we find ourselves comparing how much time people meditate compared to our practice, or if our yoga teacher has ever been to India. Our tricky egos have infiltrated things as sacred and personal as yoga, mediation, and the food we eat. We then continue on to fuel the internal comparison by putting habits, people, and things into two categories; good v.s. bad. Eating all organic is good, eating sugar is bad. Yoga 5 days a week is good, yoga 2 days a week is bad. Doing all of the poses for the full length in a class is good, coming out into child’s pose is bad. We compartmentalize everything we think we should do, and end up should-ing all over the place. Pardon my french but… Aren’t you fucking tired of the comparison and should’s? I know I am.
All to often we get so caught up in the things we should be doing, especially in a practice done multiple times a week such as yoga. Instead of calming that voice and trusting our bodies and hearts, we project our fear of failure onto others in the form of judgment. When I heard the fear in the woman's voice about being in the front row, I heard comparison and self distrust. Instead of lifting people up who are trying their best to be authentic we are ripping them down in comparison to ourselves... to our egos.
So Ive decided to try a few things, which I know may sound a little radical but I invite you to think about trying these with me as well:
- Eating based on how it feels in the body while letting the diets, lists, and good/bad’s go. I know its a new year and resolutions are in motion, but trusting your body doesn't mean a free for all it means eating that which nourishes all of you.
- Keeping food and lifestyle opinions to myself, if someone is curious about what I do they will ask and I would be more then happy to share. Sharing that which excites us in life feeds the soul, and we can continue to do so without feeling the need to preach. Your body, your rules!
- Meditate as long as is needed or wanted, sometimes that's 20 minutes, 5 minutes, or even none that day.
- Drop the comparison and jealousy with others and focus on where I am today, in my practice and in my life. If I’m feeling jealous, that's probably just admiration for someone’s amazing talents or adventures that I'm not quite sure how to express. Instead of coveting their experience Ill try to open my heart and let them know that I think they are beautiful, brave, and inspiring.
- Intentionally be front row center in yoga practice, its important to honor your space and shine that light! I get the most out of class by being fully present for myself. And who knows by being in the front row, I might even inspire someone who really needs a moment of child’s pose to lay down their ego and take a resting breath.
We are all doing the very best that we can in this beautiful human experience, I think its time we lay down the battle gear, open our hearts and honor where we are with each breath. Trust that those we know and love have their experience covered. Life is too short to try and be anyone else but you. And the truth is, YOU are brilliant and amazing right here.. right now.