Competition: Who needs it?

“Let go of Competition, Expectation and Judgment.” YogaFit mantra


Competing for Space

This image looks peaceful and natural. but just beneath the surface, there is strong competition for food, water and space. Every gardener knows that plants are capable of invading when left unchecked. The most aggressive become the most prolific. Survival of the fittest is proven here. The same is true in the animal world. Competition is a necessary life skill. If you don’t compete, you will not survive. Is the same true for people? I’m not so sure.

For me, competition is not in my nature, at least not obviously. I usually refuse to compete. Not that I can’t stand losing, because I am just fine with that. I always admit when I’m wrong, or in over my head, or simply can’t do something. I’m just not a competitive person. Maybe because I have never had to be competitive. Oldest, only girl, no need to fight for my place in the family, I have always felt good enough. When I was in school I was happy with B’s, never needed A’s. When I got A’s, I wasn’t too impressed. My parents expected me to be strong, smart and mature. So I was.

When I started practicing yoga my lack of competition became more of a practice, less of a certainty. I recognized an emotional tightness when I was training and saw some young, thin woman doing a pose gracefully and without any hesitation or real effort. Of course, my thought was “Why can’t I do it like her?” I learned to let go of those kinds of  thoughts. I didn’t put pressure on myself to look like her, or do it like she did. No problem. I don’t need to know how to do a  perfect headstand, or an arm balance anyway. Giving up? Or setting boundaries? Just not interested.

So, I can truly say that competition is simply not an issue for me. I tell new students that yoga is not a competitive sport. “We all come in with different bodies and histories, and no one will ever be just like us. So, we must learn to listen to our own bodies and minds, and adapt our yoga practice to meet our needs, not the needs of the person next to us.”

No big deal. But some people simply can’t take that road easily. That’s why we call it a practice. We practice listening to our inner voice and physical sensations and re-teach ourselves how to find our center, over and over again. Sometimes, when the center is too far lost, judgment becomes the driving force.

And that is the next thing to let go…



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