This probably seems like a strange question coming from your yoga teacher, considering that at its core, Yoga is non-competitive (unless you live in America, where the USA Yoga Federation has successfully registered yoga as an official sport, which was approved by the International Olympic Committee in 2016; and you can go and “watch” the United States Yoga Asana Championships?!) *Cue eye roll from me*.
As much as it can be wonderful watching Yoga teachers (or “insta-pretty” yogis) demoing challenging poses, in my opinion, Yoga is a practice that simply cannot be competitive - it is "a journey of the self, through the self, to the self" (The Bhagavad Gita).
How can we possibly compete with the person next to us during our yoga practice? We are most likely there for completely different reasons, and do not know what journey each other are on. Your favourite poses are probably totally different to theirs too (perhaps strike up a conversation and ask them next time - you might be surprised!)
Competition involves rivalry. It involves trying to push past others and of course, to win. But this goes against everything “yoga” - celebrating yourself as an individual and what makes you unique; being part of an incredibly diverse, welcoming community; practicing amongst friends (even in a room full of strangers) who do not judge or compare themselves to you.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt), and if you are focused on comparing yourself to those around you, you are stealing from yourself some of the benefits and happiness that not only yoga can bring you, but life itself.
I like to think that I am always encouraging you to accept yourself, exactly as you are, and to not compare yourself with others, and not judge yourself or others. This is because it was these messages I desperately needed to hear, that deeply planted seeds of healing in me when I first started my yoga journey. And I always make sure that my practice and teaching works to water and nurture these seeds.
So why am I getting you to think about competition?!
Well, I have actually realised that perhaps I do have a little competitive streak in me…
Let me explain...
On my own path of self-discovery, I have come to realise that perhaps I possibly use my disdain for competitiveness as a bit of an excuse to stay in my comfort zone.
Competition itself has always made me feel very uncomfortable - I have never played competitive sports, and being in the Yoga industry, it is hard for me to “compete” with other Yoga teachers for business, because it goes against everything I (and my yoga practice) stand for.
But as with anything, I have to ask myself - why? And I realise it is because I (as I imagine most of us do) have a huge fear of failing, or losing. If I stay here in my cosy little comfort zone, I don’t have to work very hard, and can just plod along! And that’s just human nature I suppose - we don’t like to feel uncomfortable.
But if we do not push ourselves to try just that little bit harder, then we will never step out of our comfort zone. And it isn’t until we step out of our comfort zone that we progress - we begin to see growth, development and change within. Ultimately, we get to know and understand ourselves a bit better, which is of course, the purpose of our Yoga practice!
There is no “perfect” in yoga. That is why it is called “practice”. There’s no getting to the “end”, but there are always ways to continue to grow and learn. Therefore, I’ve come to understand that life, like our yoga practice, is an ever-changing journey that always has something more to give us - if we can just take that little step in to the uncomfortable, unknown, and unprecedented.
So just because I feel uncomfortable with competition itself, it doesn’t mean that I do not want to do well - to grow, develop and succeed. I am here to continuously strive to better myself, so that I can serve others to the absolute best of my ability.
I want to be the best for you! I want to win - FOR YOU!!