Envy On The Yoga Mat: Bring Awareness Back To Your Heart
Whether you’ve been practicing for ten years or ten days, going to a level-3 class and perfecting your inversions or participating in your first class struggling to balance in tree pose, every single one of us who’s ever stepped onto the mat and into a class has experienced some kind of “yoga envy.”
You know how it goes. There are always those one or two people in class that seem to have been made for yoga. They’re tall and beautiful and seem to effortlessly twist into every pose through every sequence. When the instructor invites the class to do the most difficult variation of a pose they’re the ones to take it to the next level. And they do it so damn gracefully.
That ‘Yoga Envy’ you feel on the mat? Guess what? It’s real for everyone, and we’ve all been there.
If Only …
I would like to say I don’t do it anymore. That in my years of practicing yoga I’m somehow past the envy that sometimes comes along with getting onto my mat. But I do. And while it doesn’t happen all the time you can bet I’m sometimes stealing a sideways glance to see what the girl on the mat next to me is doing.
How does she move so easily into warrior III? What’s wrong with me that I’m not that fluid? Why do I wobble and struggle to stay in this pose while she does it with such grace? Am I not taking my practice serious enough? She obviously is. Her life must be so put together. I definitely need to make some changes.
And this is in just one pose. Are you kidding me? What happened to paying attention to my body and bringing awareness to my breath?
“You know how it goes. There are always those one or two people in class that seem to have been made for yoga.”
I know I’m not the only one that does this. I can’t be. I’m pretty sure there are countless people that chose to focus on the person next to them rather than their breath and moving through each posture in the present moment. I think we forget that yoga is an extremely personal journey and we’re all at different places on this journey.
The confident teacher leading you through your asanas on Tuesday nights started somewhere too. You don’t think she’s always been able to rock crow like that do you? And that calm, Zen-like lady who seems so mysteriously balanced and poised? The one you assume must have a perfect life because of how she carries herself in class the hour a week you see her? You really have no clue as to what her life is like. What challenges she’s faced, what she’s dealing with in her personal life, or if she’s ever struggled to put her heels all the way to the ground in downward dog.
Only we can lose of course
Do you have any idea though, how much we miss out on when we get trapped in this game of mental comparison and assumption when we step onto our mats? It’s like we’ve forgotten what yoga is really here to teach us, and that it’s supposed to make us feel better…not worse.
Let’s be real about something here. This isn’t always easy. Not only are there people in class who seem to have been born in child’s pose, but there’s also the countless yoga pages we’re connected to on social media that do a pretty good job of portraying an image of perfection. There’s this “standard” we think is what yoga is supposed to be based on what the media portrays. Sorry, but there is no standard in yoga. And there is definitely not just one “type” of person that practices.
“And maybe most importantly I was able to accept myself for who I am and where I’m at in my practice”
The next time you find you put yourself down because you’re not that tan, thin, beautiful woman on Instagram doing the splits while in handstand on the beach or the woman next to you in full dancer’s pose, do yourself a favor. Bring your awareness back to your heart. We’re all on our own journey, and we’ve all experienced envy on the mat at some point along the way.
When I became more aware of this, the more I was able to experience the things that yoga is here to teach. Like how to surrender, and in doing so how to experience calm, clarity, and inner peace. And maybe most importantly I was able to accept myself for who I am and where I’m at in my practice. Even on the days I wobble.
Ending on a good note.
I know that yoga’s here to guide us to relish in the limitless potential life has to offer, not to divide us against one another in our judgments. It’s here to unite us, intimately embrace our own unique beauty, and shine with the graceful brilliance that lives within us all.
Do you ever feel ‘Yoga Envy’? Comment below to share your story.