Are you keeping up (or upside down) with the Joneses? Do you spend too much of your time admiring or wondering what others are up to at the expense of focusing on your own journey?
I don’t often consciously think about this. In a recent yoga class, however, the instructor suggested we practice headstands. Before having two babies, I completed headstands in yoga class without a second thought. I was no pro, but it didn’t make me nervous and I didn’t have much trouble. After two pregnancies, however, and my core strength completely destroyed by two cesarean sections, I had no confidence in my ability to hold a headstand without falling. None-the-less, I moved up against a wall and slowly lifted my legs into position above my head. Much to my surprise, I remained in the headstand for quite some time.
As I held the pose, I noticed how my focus periodically shifted from my own body and space to that of others. I began to wonder how long my yoga-instructor sister, attending the class with me, would remain flawlessly inverted. It felt like forever had passed, yet she still stood upside down in the middle of the room. Then I noticed all the funky leg movements she began to practice!
My mind continued to wander to others’ mats thinking about how long they would hold the pose or when the teacher would finally lead us to come out of this headstand. Each time I lost focus from my own body and space, I began to wobble. As I returned my focus internally, the wobbling stopped. I consciously observed how much stronger my pose became and how much more comfortable I felt in my space when I returned to focus only on myself instead of others.
Certainly, at times I have to extend my concentration beyond my mat to notice others that may fall into my space or be aware when the teacher instructs the class to move to the next position. Generally though, I found so much more success and satisfaction achieving my personal goal of holding the headstand when I focused my attention only on my circumstances and accomplishments, no matter how basic or advanced those around me maneuvered their yogi pretzel bodies.
I walked out of class and reminded myself that I most often find true success and fulfillment when I concentrate on my own body and well-being. More broadly, my life feels fuller and happier by noticing my own accomplishments and preparing for personal potential struggles than by exhausting my energy on keeping upside down with the yogi Joneses.
What a great lesson to take from class into the rest of my life. I need to spend more time on my mat!
One way I’ve found to inspire me to do that is following yogi Instagram accounts. This one, yogadaan, is by far my favorite. How beautiful are these poses?! I only hope one day my yoga looks like this!! You can see her headstand is much better than mine. But someday I’ll be there! Until then…namaste.