Saturday morning, I was mat-to-mat with strangers in a new yoga class. I didn’t know what kind of class it was or what I might expect, but I was there early, found my spot in the second row from the back, and was watching my classmates file in and spread their own mats. The class began like most of them do. Dim lights. Mountain pose. The sound of OM filling the room.
I try hard to clear my thoughts. And I try especially hard not to think about this blog. I can’t possibly keep my mind focused on my breath, to move with intention, while I’m also trying hard to plan blog posts and schedule social media outreach. I’m good, but I’m not that good.
But then the teach said something that I wish I couldn’t written down to share with you.
“You Can’t Lose at Yoga,” she said.
In that moment, I was moving from downward facing dog, with my feet at the back of my mat, into high lunge, with one foot forward. And while the yogis who were teaching and seemingly everyone around me could do this with great ease and grace. Feet moving quickly, quietly, balance coming easily. I don’t know if it’s lack of flexibility or fear of falling over or the curvy and rounded shape of my body getting in the way, but I have to slide my foot forward, pause, reset my hands, slide it a little more, and stand up a bit before that foot really lands where it’s supposed to.
I’m fairly certain the teacher was looking directly at me, and I’m sure my face betrayed my frustration. Because I needed it when she told me, “You can’t lose at yoga.”
What an amazing and comforting thought. I can’t lose. No matter how many times I fall out of Eagle pose or how often I have to pick my leg up as I move into Warrior I from Downward Dog I’m still not losing. I’m not losing, either, if I have to put my knees down in side plank or take modified anything. I’m not a failed yogi, I’m not the worst.
I take great comfort in that.
Of course, I also take great comfort that yoga doesn’t welcome the idea of a winner either. In fact, it eliminates the need for competition at all. It’s not a sport, but rather an exercise simply for the sake of moving and pushing the body and mind. I’m not in it for a medal or trophy. I don’t need to be recognized as the greatest. I only have to show up, and move my body on my mat to be successful.
And while I can’t gracefully move my leg from down dog into high lunge, I can show up. And that makes me a winner.