In physical settings, it is common for men to feel that they have to compete. In a yoga class, competition is not necessary. In a yoga class, competition can create injury in a variety of ways. There is a time and place for competition and the typical yoga studio is not it.
Stay Mindful of Yourself
The physical practice of yoga varies for every person in the room. The person next to you may have been a gymnast. The person behind you might be suffering from depression. The person in front of you might have Crohn’s disease. You just do not know what is going on inside of the bodies of the people in the room. Because of the different experiences that each body has faced, the physical poses will look different. If you muscles are tight from weight lifting or running or from resting on the couch, you cannot compare your variation of tree pose to the person who has been practicing for 10 years and was born with natural flexibility.
Appreciate First, then Find the Edge
Once you begin to compare your poses to those of other people, you lose the purpose of the class. By nature, yoga brings two opposing concepts into the mind. The first is body appreciation and second is body development. In the yoga world, your body is exactly the way it is supposed to be, right now. But, as you appreciate what your body can do right now, you should constantly push your edge (without metaphorically “jumping off of the cliff”) and your edge will be different from everyone else’s edge. When you try to push to someone else’s edge, you risk physical injury as well as psychological injury that could keep you from benefiting from the power of yoga. When you notice that you are trying to out-pose someone else in the room, it is time to notice the thought without judgment and move back into your own body and breath.