Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

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Posted by on in Off the Mat

Anyone else feeling a teensy bit of pressure to be quarantine fabulous these days?

Think: baking photogenic bread, creating cute craft projects, sewing adorable masks, learning the ukelele / spanish / how to ride a unicycle / and on and on and on....

I'm as competitive as anyone. No, MORE competitive.

Despite my 20+ year yoga and meditation practice I've still been known to taunt my kids with a "YESSSS!" and a fist pump when I beat them at a board game. All in good fun, of course. At least for me. Not sure what the losers think :)

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Asmita alert! In yoga philosophy, asmita is one of the kleshas, or afflictions of the mind. It's often referred to as "I-Am-Ness," the ego asserting itself for fear that if it doesn't we will not be good enough, liked, or valued by the outside world.

My competitive, comparing spirit follows me everywhere I go if I let it. This is the #1 reason I got off social media a few years ago: it consistently made me feel sad and less-than any time I got a glimpse of someone's beautifully filtered life and compared it with my own present circumstances that usually included children arguing and on at least one occasion involved a smoke alarm going off because the new plant-forward recipe I was making had burned while I scrolled my way to a Facebook jealousy stupor.

But right now my professional self is necessarily in research mode. I'm on webinar after webinar learning the best ways to offer online yoga. To get a sense of the landscape I quickly drain 30 minutes bopping from one online yoga site to another, and afterwards I feel something not unlike that post social media depression that used to plague me.

This is the thing that always bugged me in yoga philosophy class: in theory it sounds nice to not compete or compare. But how can I be a responsible, relevant business owner without doing that research? How can you find fun ways to occupy yourself during quarantine without looking at what everyone else is doing?

The answer is subtle, as it usually is in yoga. That's what I love about it.

Yes, do the research and planning (abhyasa, practice). Just don't latch onto that info to compare or judge yourself against what you find (vairagya, non-attachment).

My other tips? Pick a day (or even just an hour) when you can turn off email, work, social media, all of it. Then show yourself some compassion and head to the mat for simplicity practices - not fancy, Instagram-worthy asanas, but something that changes how you feel on a nervous system level. Today I enjoyed a lying-down practice of sama vrtti (even inhale, even exhale) that was nothing to brag about, but I felt so balanced, smooth, and connected afterwards.

No matter how competitive you are, you get to decide how you play the game.

You don't need to impress, compare, or judge yourself, especially right now. Here's to showing yourself a little more love, and to leaving the spirit of competition to the Monopoly board.

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