Let’s attend a yoga class to get better
Have you ever been to a yoga class after a long gap and found, though you’re quite contented with your home yoga practice you suddenly now suffer from a major bout of imposter syndrome?
“I’m not really a yogi…I don’t constantly spout yogic wisdom about the ‘prana’ in food.”
“It’s been years, but I still can’t confidently go into kakasana without having to drive away the mental image of myself face down on the floor, arms collapsed, teeth splattered in different directions. I still have to fight the ‘what if I fall?’ feeling. “
I love my solitary yoga practice because it helps me stay focussed on getting better by thinking about how I can improve today what I worked on yesterday. In a class my competitiveness kicks in, kicks me and causes me to almost kick my saintly neighbour. Then the imposter within me whispers, ‘ You’re not really a yogi – trying to be better than everyone.’ I didn’t even know I was so ambitious that I want my chaturanga to be better in every way than my neighbour’s. At home, when it’s just me and my yoga mat I think “I want to hold my chaturanga for one breath longer than I did yesterday.” I work on feeling better balanced in my kakasana this week, than I was last week. Do I have to be better than someone else, or do better what I could already do before?
Which doesn’t really mean that avoiding being around other people is the way to maintain a yogic mindset. Unfortunately. Because that would be easy. The challenge lies in being spiritually minded even around other people who are waving their legs in the air in a much more sprightly fashion than you. Which is why there’s still something to be gained from attending a class. Apart from the collective energy of like minded people. We also learn from each other and we learn not to dislike someone who seems to be better than us.
In class we find we’re remembering something we may have brushed aside for a few months as ‘not so important’. We may notice a tiny detail in another yogi’s trikonasana that makes it a little more challenging. We’re reminded not to skimp on the shavasana thereby cheating ourselves of the calming benefits of our practice. Yes, an occasional class helps us grow, which means it’s fun in some ways and not so pleasant in others.
I’ve figured that the thing to do is to notice what I need to do to get better but not to feel awful because I’m not the best. It’s much easier to practice alone, believing we’re getting better at our asanas, not having to struggle with the unpleasant sensation of comparing ourselves unfavourably with others. But there’s much to be gained from attending a class every now and again. So long as we remember that we’re better today than we were yesterday which means we’re still the best that we can be.
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