Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lessons in Yoga: Lessons in Life

One thing I absolutely love about yoga is its ability to take the things (you know, the little issues, the little problems) that are hiding just under the surface, blow them up to gargantuan portions, and smack you across the face.  This is especially true in a particularly long or particularly hard class, like the one I was in tonight.  There are days when I walk into class thinking, "Gee.  Things are going pretty great - I don't know what I want to focus on!"  Some days I have something on my mind - an issue that I really want to work through during class (i.e. stress, an argument, etc.).  Other days, I go in with a bit of trepidation, thinking, "I'm not feeling up for this..."  Those are the days you know you're in for it.  You just know something is hiding in your subconscious, making you feel ... off, but you can't quite put your finger on it.  Then, in the middle of a sweaty, shaky pose, while the woman next to you is pulling it off without so much as a glisten on her forehead, it hits you like a ton of bricks.

I'll be frank with you...  This happened to me tonight.  And, luckily, the lesson I was smacked with in yoga class was also an important life lesson and, not surprisingly, one that I struggle with pretty often.

Here it is:  Don't compare yourself to others.  You are exactly where you need to be right now.

In yoga, everyone is at different levels and has different talents.  I, for example, love, love, LOVE pigeon pose and triangle, but I have always struggled with inversions.  Some people are more naturally flexible than others.  Some people have flexible shoulders and tight hips, or vice versa.

In life, it's no different.  Some people my age are married, some are single, and some used to be married, but aren't anymore.  Some people have 5 kids, some people aren't "there" yet, some don't want any kids, while others are struggling to get pregnant.  Some people have settled into less-than-fulfilling careers, some are fulfilled and successful, some are still searching.

And the lesson that I need to learn is that, in yoga class, I need to look straight ahead, to focus on myself, to pay attention to how I feel, to send myself little positive messages every now and then, to breathe, and to be happy with exactly where I am and what my body can do, no matter what anyone else can do.

In life, I need to do the same.  I need to remember that I am exactly where I need to be right now...


  1. Best approach to staying out of or needing to visit a therapy office I've heard. Great insights.

  2. You are so right, Katie. I remember one night in the primary series that I had tears streaming down my face by the time we were in sirsasana. It definitely intensifies whatever emotions you brought to the mat. That's also the great thing about yoga - it is not a competition and every pose is just right however you do it. It is tough to remember when there's a human pretzel right next to you, so I close my eyes a lot. :) It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and think, "that's where I want to be - why am I not there yet?" But just when you quit comparing and fretting, you find that you are there.
    Love you babe!

  3. Hey sorry we didn't get a chance to chat yesterday. I'm glad you realized that what your neighbor does has no relation to what you're doing on the mat. It's actually one of the things that this studio in particular tries to cultivate by having people of all levels in the same room.

  4. Love this post on reducing social comparisons. Even though I think it's almost impossible to not compare ourselves with others, I like to also remind myself that the universe has room for all of us -- everyone else's successes don't come at the cost of ours :) Great post!