We live in a society that is very much “cause and effect” oriented. We think it is so simple. “Study hard, and get an A on the exam” is what our mind tells us, but it is unaware of the other things going on around. We are expected to take as many challenging classes as possible, score the best internships, get into the best university, and have this amazing life planned out all before the age of eighteen. Anything less than superior in any activity is considered unacceptable
I have always grown up involved in competitive activities. Being a competitive dancer for five years, competitions bring out the very best and the very worst of people. Many countless hours are spent in the studio preparing for a single danc when in reality, competition has nothing to do with the actual dancing itself. If you don't place at a competition you are looked down upon as an inferior dancer, and if you get “gold," it's because they had nothing else to give you.
However, when I decided to take up yoga this past fall, it instantly took away the sense of competitiveness and brought out the sense of community. All the harsh criticism I had experienced was replaced with light and honor. I was even thanked after a group discussion— something I have never experienced in an activity before. There were no critiques, only assists which were to help you become better. It has also taught me to truly listen to my body. Not every day will be the same, and there is no reason to treat your practice the same every day. Your body is constantly ebbing and flowing, thus there is no reason to have expectations of how it should move day to day.
Yoga has taught me that one of the best things in life cannot be critiqued or improved, it just has to be. Letting go of the shoulda woulda coulda’s in life opened my mind and heart to so many new things. It has taught me to take pride in everything I do because I ultimately “own” it, and because there is nothing to be changed or redone, everything is beautiful.
While I still miss competitive dance every day, it sort of became an autopilot type of thing. I would repeat the same dance every day, and while it was enjoyable for me, it seemed to lose its meaning. It lost its beauty.
Coming to yoga has allowed me to not be afraid of making mistakes. What I didn't think would come out of my practice is that it affects me on an everyday basis. I have become more laid back and spontaneous as well as just accepting what “is”. Not trying to control everything and just letting whatever is going to happen, happen. The yoga studio community has become family. A type of family that sweats together and is in the studio for a common purpose to better ourselves. To create meaningful lives for ourselves.
Yoga has given me a chance to allow my body to reset and relax and find meaning and joy through self expression.