I am a yoga teacher. More importantly – I am a yoga practitioner. I practise this stuff, all the time!
After six years of practice, I am finally beginning to understand what this yoga thing is all about: the concept of ease and stillness within a posture; the presence and relationship to body and breath.
Yes, my tippy toes are beginning to feel comfortable at the back of my skull in deep backbends. It’s truly rewarding to feel hard work pay off.
After working consistently on a pose for months, sometimes years, the offhanded comments about my ‘natural flexibility’ or what a show-off I am, can suck much of the satisfaction out of these accomplishments in the way only envy can. For someone to discredit your deservingness can be hurtful; yoga is not about asana (poses); it’s not about who can be the best yogi out there, it’s not a competition.
And so I come to my point: yoga envy is just plain silly.
Nothing takes us further from our own truths than the comparison to others.
I am not freakishly flexible. Truth be told, I am not really a naturally flexible person at all. When I started, my fingers were barely grazing my toes in forward folds, my legs shook uncontrollably in standing poses and breathing during a backbend was simply not an option.
Comparison is judgment. Judgment is no good. We are all different, unique. We cannot possibly have any idea what it is to be the other: what their journey has taught them, the way they think and process, what they have to overcome. When we compare, we are only seeing one little piece of the big picture; we are creating separation.
Asana are beautiful and empowering expressions of physical human potential. A healthy body is fundamental to other areas of growth. Stunning selfies of no-handed handstands on Instagram are just not why we are practicing asana.
Having goals is essential, without a doubt, and admiration for those who inspire you can spark your motivation. But don’t hate on that fit queen practising her one footed lord of the flying unicorn b variation before class even starts; honour her and honour her journey; rejoice in her progress. She is who she is (ex Olympic gymnast, Russian ballerina, or just plain freak of nature – or not), and you are you (ex-couch potato?), and me, well, I am a package of insecurities and self-doubt who occasionally finds peace and grace in a physically demanding pose. I practise.
Every single step of the yoga path is relevant, important and profound, no matter who you are and what you have come from.