You walk into the yoga studio. Your eyes scan for just the right location, one where you can both see the instructor and feel invisible. A waving hand grabs your attention. Your impossibly sweet, and apparently socially fearless, boyfriend has saved you a spot -- front and center. You take a deep breath and remind yourself that yoga is not a competition; it is a personal practice of finding one's own edge--physical and mental. A few more deep breaths and personal pep talks, you begin to drop in. You can do this. It is good to push your comfort zone. If only pushing one's comfort zone was not so uncomfortable. The practice starts to ramp up; sensations of muscles stretching and burning replace your inner dialogue. This is what you love about yoga -- its ability to allow you to be in the moment and with your body.
Speaking of bodies, boy is there a lot of material for self-comparison in the room. You find yourself looking from one mat to the next, initially appreciating the beauty of others. Then, your training as an American girl kicks in. The voice in your head turns comparative, and then downright mean, as if finding flaws in others will somehow create value in yourself. The flaws you find are not physical. On the contrary, in each other person you can find some attribute which you find better than your own equivalent. The flaws you perceive are in character, and your ego's cheap way of keeping afloat. On this day you notice many girls are wearing tiny spandex shorts. Who wears shorts to yoga? Are they trying to show off their lady parts? This is not hot yoga and this is San Francisco -- it's 50 degrees and foggy outside! Ugh, those girls clearly are not enlightened enough to be in MY yoga class!
Through the days that follow you cannot get this struggle out of your head. You are mad at those girls for having the audacity to wear shorts, mad at yourself for judging those girls, and jealous that they are confident enough to wear shorts -- talk about a vicious cycle of self loathing! By the time a week has rolled around you see only one way out -- obviously you need to wear shorts to yoga.
You do and are self-conscious at first -- clearly everyone is staring at you and judging your shorts choice. However, when the class does not turn into a scene from a middle school lunchroom, and no one is pointing and laughing or even really noticing you, you are able to turn your awareness inward. In a warrior series you notice how much easier it is to check your alignment when you can see your knees -- maybe there is something to this shorts thing after all. Throughout the class you feel empowered; you are one of those girls brave enough to wear shorts to yoga. You feel like even if someone, including your inner critic, were to question your choice of apparel you would stand up for yourself.
What a different class from last week. You still usually wear black leggings to yoga but sometimes now you wear shorts. What a fine line there is between inspiration and jealousy. What if when we feel ourselves becoming jealous or judgmental, we embraced rather than rejected the object of our emotion?
Give it a shot -- take that jealous energy and embrace it until it turns into inspiration!