Taking the Competition Out of the Yoga
‘I’m not here to prove myself, I’m here to be myself’ is an empowerment quote that can help us drop our weapons, metaphorically, and journey inwards.
Doing this isn’t as easy as it sounds or we’d all be doing it, right?
Let’s look at the actual steps you can take with your yoga practice to ease off the conflict you create in your mind.
WHY AM I HERE?
Before you start your yoga practice, remember what you came to yoga for in the first place. Whether it is mental or physical health or to de-stress.
Close your eyes, move inwards, notice how you feel. How do I feel in my body? What is my emotional state? Move into your mind. What are my thoughts right now?
Notice your breathing. What is moving with my breathing? Keep focusing on your inhales and exhales through the nose. What can you let go of to make it easy and smooth?
Reframe the class as ‘a breathing exercise with postures around it’. Pull back on the postures so you can breathe easy.
If you lose focus, that’s fine. That is the nature of the mind. Notice your thoughts. Realise that when you notice your mind has wandered, this is already awareness.
Look at yourself kindly and come back to your breathing. Do this again and again, using your breath as an anchor.
Examine your thoughts with curiosity. Are you comparing yourself to others right now? Are you thinking you could do something better than you are doing it right now? That your breathing should be longer? That you cannot focus well? That you are not ‘good’ at yoga? That the person in front of you is doing so much better?
Whatever you are thinking isn’t necessarily true. It is only your thought patterns based on your own belief system. There is nothing you need to change right now. Your awareness is leading you on a journey of self-discovery. A never-ending journey.
MANAGE YOUR PRACTICE
You can only work with the body you have, and how you feel right now. Yoga practice is personal.
The physical aspect allows you to enter subtler realms of yourself. Keep in balance. Remember, you aren’t training for the circus. There is no good or bad about your practice. Just how you are doing right now.
Follow the guidelines the teacher gives, and feel what you can engage and what you can relax to hold your body in the form or yoga posture you are practicing.
If you find yourself looking at others around you, remind yourself that you came in for your own practice. To improve your health and work with your mind.
Do what you can with the body, mind and history that is specific to you right now.
What you need you already have. Find the silence within you. Remember that you do not need to look outside of yourself to find this source of silence or shantum; peace, wholeness, balance within. Use your breathing to connect to this source. Inhale from this limitless space and release your exhale back into the silence.
Every inhale is the chance for a new beginning. Breath in from the source and realise this part of yourself can never be damaged or changed no matter what has happened in your life so far.
Next time when you realise you are comparing yourself to the person next to you in class, remember why you are at yoga practice. Remember that yoga practice helps you to remove the layers of confusion you have laid upon yourself through the act of living and socialisation.
Reset yourself by going inwards to draw from the source, and trust in our own discernment.
Comparing yourself to someone in front of you has nothing to do with the person you see. Comparing yourself where you think you should be is also based on fragile constructs based on beliefs that are as impermanent as all nature.
Stay with the silence and breathe and act from that space. That is what you are. You may feel vulnerable when you leave the fortress you construct in the battle of ‘mind’. But that is where your power lies.
Remind yourself, ‘I’m not here to prove myself, I’m here to be myself.’
By Natasha Gunn, Leader Yoga Program at hotyoga-eindhoven.nl and artawake.nl