I’ve never been a competitive person, at least, not in the physical sense. I remember sitting and waiting for my turn in handball as a kid in elementary school and feeling anxious about playing in front of my friends and classmates. The activities I preferred to do were non-competitive, solo activities. Like swinging on the swings or riding my bicycle. I liked handball and tetherball just fine. But I really didn’t care if I lost. I never felt that my physical prowess was much to be celebrated. Sports weren’t really encouraged in my household and I didn’t really show any interest in playing team sports until 7th grade. I participated in ballet as a young girl and I loved to dance and I still do, but don’t take me line dancing because I stink at fast, choreographed dancing. In my high school years, I enjoyed lifting weights; again, another activity that was not a team sport. I enjoyed activities that I could do alone without spectators. Another time in college, a boyfriend asked me to sub in his co-ed adult softball league; panic, fear, and anxiety rose deep from within me. I played, but I think I lost the game for the team.
When I began practicing yoga, I found this awareness of my body that I had not experienced before. I paid attention to subtle movements in my body and how moving ever so slightly could enhance my sensations. Moving slowly with the breath. I could do this. I loved this form of movement! I felt successful since I was naturally flexible and bendy. This practice came natural since many of the poses were familiar to me from my ballet days.
Another part of the practice that I enjoy is the non-competitive aspect of asana. I mean, I suppose you could make it competitive with the person next to you in class, but that’s not really yogi. I’m not gonna lie, my head was on a swivel for the first couple of years of my practice. Always checking out the other people in class and seeing what “hard” poses they could master. I wouldn’t call it competition, but they definitely inspired me and motivated me to continue my practice to become better. Again, not really the point of an asana practice.
There are some poses that I will probably never master in this lifetime and I’m okay with that. This. . . yes, that’s the point of this practice! Accepting where and who we are each and every single day. . . without judgment. Knowing we are all on our own journeys in this life. I think as we get older, it’s important to find forms of movement that we enjoy and that feel good, otherwise we won’t keep doing it. The activities may change over time, but just keep moving!