It's Yoga Practice, Not Yoga Performance

Kaye Locke
It's Yoga Practice, Not Yoga Performance

I’m currently taking three different yoga classes a week, with three different teachers and three different groups of yogis.  They are all pretty mixed level classes. My ‘main’ yoga teacher at the local specialist yoga centre believes that there should be no distractions in the studio, including no mirrors or music.

We should listen to our own bodies to ascertain correct alignment and peace, and I am quite sure this is the right approach. At least for me.

Mirrors or No Mirrors

The other two classes are less formal and held in our local gym.  I go there because the lessons are part of the gym membership package, and I quite enjoy the different challenges they offer. However, there are mirrors (yes, and music).

I loathe the mirrors! After many years of not being able to see myself during my yoga practice, I find that awkward misshapen reflection totally horrifying. I also find that I am quite easily distracted by seeing others in the room.

Idiotically, I compare myself with the other 20 or so students. Some are flexible, strong and impressive, some are just beginning their yoga lives and struggle with poses and balances. We are all just doing our best. But there is one lady that always catches my eye. 

The Standout in Class

She’s good. She really is. But she is always ahead of the game.  As our teacher is explaining a pose, she will already be settling into it. It is impossible not to notice the only person in the class who is moving and not listening intently.

She seems to be suffering from 'look at me' syndrome! This one woman is responsible for some of the most negative thoughts I’ve experienced in a class.

Maybe I’m being harsh, but it seems to me to be a terribly arrogant thing, to appear to know what to do before we are being asked to do it. Of course, many of us do know what is expected and could easily sweep in to our vinyasas without any further explanation.

But nonetheless, everyone else is attentive and polite which leaves me sitting and stewing with the urge to shout out…

"Hey, that teacher knows her stuff, we all want to hear and watch her demonstration. You over there just sit still and listen and wait like the rest of us." or "Yes, we can see that you know what to do. Yes, we’re dead jealous of your graceful moves. Now just sit still for a bit. It's not a bloomin' stage!"

But instead of saying the latter, which is simply ego-driven, I take a few deep breaths and tell myself that I should be calm, forgiving, and most importantly — mindful of myself and nobody else. This is because for me, yoga is all about the practice; not performance or perfection but rather practice and progress.

And I can confidently say, I will never be good enough for a yoga performance because I will always be learning, practicing and progressing in my own yoga practice.