“Stop comparing yourself with others”; “You are good enough”; “You are who you are”
I truly understand what they mean, but I had been struggling to put them into action. With the over-flooded information all over the social media/internet in the modern era, it is difficult for us not to compare ourselves with others, regardless of anything. As a yoga practitioner, have you ever had the thought of comparing yourself with someone else you see? For me, the feeling of envious rises when I see others who are able to perform a posture effortlessly and elegantly; desirous to attempt advanced poses; insatiable and often seek attention, compliments or improvement. In the next moment, I would be filled with disappointment, self-hatred, discouragement.
I started off yoga with a curious and humble mind, without any expectation and judgemental towards the practice, just like a newborn baby. As I practice over the years, perfecting an asana posture or attempting any advanced posture became my priority or even the goal of my practice. These thoughts have been slowly forming up in my mind unconsciously, until recently that I read about the eight limbs of yoga.
Ahimsa, the first guidelines that come under Yama, it is referring to non-violence, to have kindness and compassion for self as well as others. It also teaches us to be mindful of how we treat ourselves, others, and the environment. It doesn’t refer solely to action, but also to the words and thoughts that we use on ourselves or others. This is totally a new angle to me as I have never thought that what I had been doing to myself was an act of violence. Looking back at my practice, I would constantly push myself over my limit even though I am physically tired or having body ache, I judged myself for not being able to perform poses that are beyond my capability. Even when my body says no but my mind would say yes, don’t be a loser, try harder, work harder!
Aparigraha, the last Yama on the list, is known as the concept of non-greed, non-attachment and non-possessiveness, to be satisfied with what oneself have. After reading this I noticed how greed and possessiveness have slowly taken over my joy in practising yoga. As I focused on my performance and results in more than anything else during my practice, I wasn’t being able to enjoy the present. I would be disconnected easily and lost the intention that I have set prior to the practice, I could easily get distracted by the action of the person on the mat next to me by comparing myself to the person.
The lessons have brought me to relook into my yoga journey, about what I have done to myself and what I want to do to myself in the future. I have decided to start practising the following in my daily routine:
- learn to communicate with my body by feeling it whether it is okay to give myself a little bit of push more, or when to take a step back.
- letting go of any expectation that comes into the mind, be it fly or fall.
- paying attention not only towards myself but also the surrounding around me, learn to respect and not giving pressure.
- learn to love myself and love the people around me equally.
I am glad that I do have the courage to face the emotions and inner thoughts within myself. It may be a long journey, but at least, I appreciate that I have started it off.