One of the beautiful lessons we learn in yoga practice, is just that; yoga is a practice. There is no perfection, no completion, and there is nothing we are looking to accomplish other than wholeness, and wholeness happens when we stop trying to be something we are not. As wonderful as this lesson is to those of us whom have felt less of ourselves our whole lives trying to hold even a spark to others, to some this is something that is challenging their very nature and is almost impossible to change.
It happens over and over again in yoga class. There is always that one student trying to be faster, more ‘efficient’, and trying to out do everyone else in class. They are in a constant state of competition, even against themselves. This could be from a place of conditioning, a place of consistent state of competition in their lives, or even the very base of their nature. Unfortunately there is little we can do as yoga instructors to help undo this conditioning, no matter how many verbal cues or lessons we set up. It is something deep inside of our students and we have to let them root it out naturally, and on their own. As the saying goes , “you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink”.
Still as I pondered this, I also was scrolling through a few articles on a few other yoga blog sites. One such subject that kept popping up was the idea of arrogance, both in the yoga community and in the spiritual communities. Even if we are able to over come the obstacle of competition, there are still many of the symptoms of competition that can be harder to root out and over come. One such symptom is pride, or arrogance; and this seems to be the one plaguing both the yoga community as well as the spiritual communities all over.
I have heard, and heard of, many people who feel as if they are singled out, or outsiders to these communities. People who are just beginning their journeys, but are unsure where to go. They are looking for answers and in the places they feel should have them without judgment. Nonetheless some are faced with stone faces and snickers. Or worse pompous remarks regarding how much one person knows that they do not.
Sure we all fall prey. We see yogis drinking, we see spiritual people swearing, and even sometimes see people that proclaim to follow the path of ahimsa drinking milk and eating meat; and we scoff. We judge these people. Or worse we see someone do something that offends us in some way and we use that in order to twist their actions or words to our own judgmental thoughts.
Even though in our own practice we may have over come the idea that we need to ‘compete’ physically, we sometimes fail to see the subtler competition that leads us in thoughts and words. We compete with the world, and with ourselves, to show that we are more yogi, that we are more spiritual. However there is no such thing on this path. Yoga is a practice, and we are never more or less of anything.
Not being perfect is one of the perks of practicing yoga, no matter how deep or how shallow we practice. We can examine our thoughts and words, but sometimes we will fail. When we find ourselves letting a judgmental word or two get out, or thinking a judgmental thought, we also need to reserve ourselves from falling prey to competing with ourselves. We excuse the comments or send blessings to those we thought bad on, and also send ourselves compassion for any judgement we may have passed.
Competition is one of the first challenges that we face when we decide to become yogis. However once over come we need to be keen on seeing its other counterparts such as pride and arrogance. We may decide to practice the deepest parts of yoga, scriptures, God Head, and all; however just because we may have brought our practice off our matt, we also must recognize those whom have not. We must allow them their own paths and mistakes, and show ourselves a little compassion when we might trip.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤