It‘s not about being good or bad, it‘s about being
Everywhere I teach and meet new students there is one conversation that I find myself in over and over again. I ask if someone did Yoga before, in order to find out from where we start our experience. A very common answer I get is: I did Yoga before, but I am not good at it. For me this is very sad to hear, because of a few reasons I am going to share with you now.
First of all Yoga is a practice that highly values non-judgement. So judging yourself or being judged as good or bad is not really the idea of it. It is just another label that is put on you.
What people mean by saying that they are not good at Yoga is that they might have a hard time getting into certain postures (Asanas) or notice that their body has some limitation here and there. Doing a handstand is a nice thing, reaching the ground with your heels in down-dog might feel like a succes, but its not all about that.
Unfortunately our society teaches us to compete with others already at kindergarden. At school we want our kids to be the best and put a lot of pressure on them. We want them to be succesful in life. This is a stressing pattern, especially at times where we find ourself struggling at the challenges of life. We do not feel good enough. We compare our being with someone else, without knowing their struggles and that makes us feel incomplete. Being caught in this mindset can lead to anxiety, low quality sleep, headaches, high blood pressure, overeating, tiredness and many many more conditions that we don‘t like experiencing. All of this might lead a friend, doctor, therapist or family member to suggest doing some Yoga to overcome those conditions.
The idea is great and I think Yoga is a very useful tool to improve someones health. But there is one thing, that is destroying the whole effect of the yoga practice. It is when we take the patterns, that lead us into our struggle, into Yoga. Wanting to be the best in a yogaclass, impressing people with pictures of advanced postures, having found „THE“ yoga style that is „YOURS“, window shopping elements of Yoga that you like and leave out the ones you dislike, thinking about the right outfit for class to look good for others and many more you could probably come up with yourself.
I think one important aspect of Yoga is to let go of those believe systems, at least for the 60 or 90 minutes in class. It doesn‘t matter for your wellbeing if the guy on the mat next to you is nailing triangle pose. The practice of others does not affect yours. Everything outside of your mat is just comparing, competing and impressing others. That can be the first lesson you get out of Yoga that you might be able to apply to your daily life. Your car doesn‘t get worse by your neighbour buying a new one, it is still the same car you have. Realising patterns like that is what makes Yoga such a great tool for connecting with ourselfs.
There is more and more people that injure themself by trying to do advanced postures, that their body is not yet able to perform. They jump into headstands and try over and over again and afterwards the result is a pain in the neck. Being to ambitious, putting in too much effort, trying to impress others, being the only one in class that mangages the posture... All of those are patterns that might have caused our problems in the first place. Letting go of that is going to improve your wellbeing more than being the best headstand in a room of people you don‘t know.
Yoga is about being in the moment. Accepting it as it is. Creating awareness for your physical body and focussing on sensations that might arise from certain movements is more functional in the long run. Your teacher probably has put some thought into designing class, so give yourself a chance to experience it. Thinking about the person on the mat next to you, judging the teacher as good or bad, fading away into thoughts about your work, relationship, money situation, trying to look good to impress others... All of that is just distracting you from being in the moment. But being in the moment allows you to become aware of who and where you are right now. Knowing who you are and what your body can and can not do at this point of your life is the first step you want to make in your practice.
It is not about being good or bad, it is about being.