Is yoga a competition or an act of self love?
Do you ever beat yourself up because you can’t perform a pose as well last week or the person next to you? Do you feel superior when you can do something that others can’t. Yoga is not a competition, not with others or yourself. We live in a society that promotes competition with the underlying belief that if I am better than anyone else, richer, more successful, more resourceful, then I’ll be happier than anyone else. Yet it seems that many who win the race, find themselves empty with no real satisfaction.
Maybe competition does help us to go further, but does going further result in a satisfying life? When you get irritated at your weakness – whatever you identify it to be – it is because you’ve been taught that weakness is not good and you have innocently believed it. Then your practice becomes an act to overcome this weakness rather than a sacred movement towards the depth of every moment. When yoga is practiced this way; towards a goal, the underlying tone is of lack, of not being enough just as we are. However, the more we practice for the joy of being present to the present moment, the keener we become to practice. Thus with regular and sustained practice, strength, flexibility and balance will be the inevitable outcome. The underlying tone here is of acceptance, love and gratitude.
It may be very subtle, but on or off the mat, many a time our actions are dictated by feelings of lack; we are constantly running away from ourselves and the true satisfaction we look for is never found. Yet, nature is abundant, self fulfilling, radiant, always evolving and perfect nonetheless.
Nature is not outside of man no matter how hard he’s tried to conquer it. The yoga studio is like a forest, in which the strong trees don’t feel superior to a fragile flower and the flower doesn’t yearn to become a tree. In the same way, you are unique and perfect just as you are, regardless of what the others are. Their uniqueness is not more special or more valuable. No one is less or more special than another. To believe this is to believe a concept invented by humans. There is order in everything and a very specific reason for you to be how you are right this moment – and that doesn’t mean you cannot change. Embrace this order, practice in gratitude and see that your life is a song of praise!