I have just been told about this wonderful book, (thank you Paul Fox): Soul To Soul, Poems, Prayers and Stories To End A Yoga Class by John Mundahl; and here is a passage that spoke to me:
“When I stopped comparing myself to others in the class, I started to enjoy yoga. I realized it wasn’t about them and me; it was about what was happening inside my body. Was I comfortable with my body or not? Could I accept myself or not? Really it’s a journey inward, not outward.”
I do see students comparing themselves to others in class. They tell me they compare themselves to others and beat themselves up about not being, as they say, “good” at yoga. I have also seen people start to lose confidence, if they are not progressing as quickly as they think others are progressing. This is all subjective and I remind them that yoga is not about the shape you make with your body, or how strong or how flexible you are, but whether you are aware. I remind them that what matters is what is going on in their space, on their mat. So when I read this passage to my students this week, I hope they take on this very special message and learn to accept themselves as they are; and know that they are all doing so well and will face obstacles on their yoga journey, which they will learn from and which will make them stronger.
You have to be kind to yourself before you can be kind to others; and you have to love yourself before you can love others.
I recall that I used to compare myself to others, and my mind started chattering. “Oh, look at me I can do this.” Or: “Wow that girl is so flexible.” Or: “Oh no I can’t do this, I’m really bad at yoga.” But now, I have learnt to let go of my ego and the chattering comments and commentary, and now I am completely unaware of anyone else and am in my own little yoga zone. My practice is now much more peaceful and I have taken this practice off the mat, and try not to compare myself to others everwhere. As The Desiderata says: “If you compare yourself to others you will become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
Try it for yourself. If you start comparing yourself to another, just allow the thought to come but release it as quickly as it does come. You will notice, after a little time, that less of those thoughts come to mind.