This week’s guest post is by Martha Henneman, a London-based yoga teacher who also manages The Life Centre Islington yoga studio. You can read more about what she writes and does here. The cartoon is by Bob Eckstein and you can purchase his brilliant book here.
Martha: As the manager of a yoga studio, I seem to spend a lot of time encouraging beginners to drop their insecurities and give yoga a go – repeating that they’re unlikely to find themselves in class surrounded by tiny, tofu-eating girls who are as judgmental as they are bendy. And that, rather, yoga is for everyone – regardless of size, age, flexibility or strength.
I completely get it. It’s so natural to compare ourselves to others. And this can be fine when we become inspired and motivated as a result. But often, it just makes us feel rubbish, and at its extreme can be debilitating. We watch someone get married when we haven’t got past the 2nd date in the last year, get that amazing break whilst we’re stuck in the same old 9-5, or do a flawless handstand whilst we’re struggling with our fear of going upside down. And now there is clearly no doubt we are Big, Fat (probably literally) Failures Who May As Well Not Bother.
Not only can we get down on ourselves, but the genuine shine is taken off our whole experience of life. I read somewhere about a woman who in the final moments of her life looked up with a sudden look of realisation and said
Poignant stuff. Such a shard of heart-breaking clarity cuts through the bullshit, and we would do well to remember it and incorporate it into our practice over and over. That of course each one of us is ‘good enough’, and that no good can ever come of thinking otherwise.
So go to class. Recognise that when you stop expending energy on worrying about what everyone else is doing and how you look in comparison, you give yourself space to really develop your own practice and actually enjoy it. And if you’re extra lucky, you just might see it spilling out into your everyday life too.