Yoga is Not a Competition

Practicing with others should always be a source of inspiration!

Practicing with others should always be a source of inspiration!

The very first official yoga training I went to was YogaFit Level 1.  One of the main principles they shared was to teach our students that yoga is not a competition.  It is easy to practice yoga in a room full of people and compare yourself to others, either thinking that you will never be good enough, or thinking that you are better than everyone else.  Yoga is NOT a competition.

The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.

~ TKV Desikachar

It all leads back to seeing yoga as a practice that goes beyond the physical poses, or asanas.  Sure, we want to build strength in our arms, legs, or core.  Sure, we want to improve our balance and deepen our flexibility.  Sure, we want to feel better physically and achieve that lightness from head to toe.  No arguments there!  But truly practicing yoga goes beyond all that.

This itself is yoga practice – watching our own thoughts and analyzing them.

~ Sri Swami Satchidanada

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.

~ Patanjali

Yoga uses the body to discipline the mind and to reach the soul.

~ BKS Iyengar

When we hold that Warrior with legs shaking and sweat dripping down, we truly practice yoga when our minds are clear, quiet, and present.  It is that inner strength from deep within that can overcome all physical sensations.  It is that focus that keeps us still and prevents us from giving up.  And every time we experience this on the mat, we are positively transforming ourselves and empowering ourselves to deal with everything life throws at us in the same way – with a little more patience, a little more peace, and a little more grace.

I had the pleasure of practicing next to a stranger a few weeks ago at Yoga Inside Out in Cupertino.  Her beautiful and strong practice included jumping into a handstand during every sun salutation and throwing in amazing transitions like peacock after side plank.  I am thankful to have witnessed her unique practice without feeling like I had to compete with her.  We just did our own thing, and at the end of class, we actually had a chance to meet.  Turns out, she is also a yoga instructor, and she has her own blog too.  I am honored that she shared a recent post about our brief meeting on her site: http://www.enginerdette.com/quest-for-the-press-day-7/

Instead of competing, we ended up inspiring one another.  Now isn’t that what yoga is truly about?

Try to let go of the idea that you need to do yoga perfectly in order to see its benefits.  Rather, let it be a process of waking up to who you really are.  If you do this, you will know joy.  And that joy will be your gift to a world that very much needs our healing.

~ Darren Main

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