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I Am a Jealous Yogi

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I am a jealous yogi. I don't even care. I'll say it right here on the Internet. I'll see someone in a really deep backbend and tell myself that I'm cuter in the face. In fact, I'll convince myself that person has to be good at backbends or they'll never find love. I've watched people go from flying pigeon into a headstand, gracefully return to flying pigeon and then jump back chaturanga with pulsing disdain.

I bet you have, too. Go ahead. Pretend you haven't loathed that smug 20-something kindergarten teacher who can get her leg behind her head. You know -- the one who wears entire Lululemon coordinates. Which reminds me, I hate everyone who wears Lululemon, let alone Lululemon twin sets. In fact, I hate the name Lululemon. (Full disclosure: until I wrote this article, I pronounced it Lulu-mon, because... Rasta? Now that I actually know how to pronounce the name, I'm uncertain if I hate Lululemon equally as much or even more than I did before.)

The fact is, I keep it real in a three-day-old Hanes T-shirt and bleach-stained stretch pants from Newport News. I can only lift my back foot up a tiny bit off the ground in flying pigeon before collapsing. Therefore you better believe that I'm giving the stink-eye to all the best yogis in the room. The ones who wear their hair down with a sexy off-the-shoulder shirts -- like flowing hair and fabric don't get in the way during inversions.

But I digress.

There is an art to being a jealous yogi. I would argue that embracing the jealous yogi inside you can help make you a better yogi. If you regularly attend class, you know that yoga philosophy is non-competitive and based on what your body is capable of that day. A non-competitive philosophy that respects that your body's individual triumphs and challenges are beautiful ones.

Unfortunately, I'm an American. I come from a place that is still super-stoked about winning World War II. A place that created Nitro just so he could defeat lesser men with comically oversized Q-tips. It's in my DNA to be competitive, so I take it out on the mat. The organically grown, humanely harvested, fair trade hemp matt.

Every yoga teacher I've ever had would balk at my confession -- adding a little friendly competition to my yoga has made me more invested in my practice. I will savasana better than you! I will ujjayi breath better than you! I will fall out of headstand better than you! Watching more talented people encourages me to push forward with my practice. A little envy motivates me to see what I'm capable of, or to try something that looks intimidating. It can be humbling when someone you consider out-of-shape or old can whoop your Sunday behind in a Vinyasa Flow class, but it can also make you realize you don't need to lose 10 pounds or 10 years to improve.

And of course, once you get those sweet moves down, it keeps you coming back to dust the weekend warriors. Sure, I can only get my foot up a little bit off the ground in flying pigeon, but that's more than some people can do, and I live for the moment when a classmate eyes me with hatred. One month later, when I've inspired her to get her foot off the ground in flying pigeon, we can look at each other with knowing smiles -- right before we join together for a bitter staredown at the frat boy who has his leg fully extended in grasshopper.

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