On Rivalry

I'm not, by nature, a competitive person. I never have been. This made it difficult for me to swim competitively and is one of the chief reasons I stopped. I felt sorry for the people who lost - the kids who were so invested in winning that they were crushed by not doing so. Or worse, the kids whose parents wanted them to win. My parents were happy for me if I won, but they weren't pushing me to win, win, win.

I've never cared if I won or lost. I guess because in a lot of competitions I took part in, I often won. Swimming, spelling, softball throwing... I could also get good grades in school and not do very much work. I know I had at least one friend in high school who had a little competition going in her head regarding our grades.

Matt is competitive. Not in life, really, but as far as games and sports go. He likes to win. We have a Wii (which is awesome, by the way) and we got Sports Resort. I kick his ass at "Swordplay" every single time. He can't take it. He gets so mad he won't play after I beat him. I find this somewhat hilarious. I don't tell him that, of course, but it is.

I don't understand the investment in that kind of stuff. I'm not saying it's wrong, I just really don't understand. I think I'm pretty lucky that way.

Recently, though, I've felt a little competitive with myself. It's weird. It's all to do with yoga and standing-bow/dancer's pose, which are slight variations of the same pose as far as I can tell, but they do have different Sanskrit names (dandayamana dhanurasana and natarajasana respectively). Anyway, this pose is my bane. And the fact that I feel competitive about yoga seems somewhat counter-intuitive to me.

I do two kinds of yoga pretty regularly, both of which incorporate this pose into their practices. As the result of starting a second kind of yoga, I realized that the way I'd been going about this posture was wrong. So I started over - kicking into my hand and not really going forward much at all to re-align my back foot.

Now I'm having more balancing problems. I find that I'm talking to myself in my head all the time, "Kick higher than the last time. Hold it longer. It looked better in the last set. You can do better than this." And it's disruptive to my practice. I get annoyed with myself for not doing it as well as I did yesterday. Then I get annoyed at myself for getting so distracted. Actually, I think this competition with myself is more disruptive than competition with someone else would be.

Not that I've never looked at one of my classmates and felt a pang of desire to be able to do a posture as well as they can. One of the instructors (she works at both of my yoga studios) is a wafer-thin Japanese woman who can practically turn herself inside out. She's like a walking rubber band. Whenever she's in a class with me, I sometimes take a look at her just to see what her poses look like. They're beautiful. But I don't have any kind of competitive feelings about my fellow classmates. Just me. My reflection.

The primary problem is that I'm always practicing with me. There I am in the mirror. There I am in my head. At least if I was trying to compete with another person I could get away from them. I'm stuck with me, though.

Some people might think that a little competition with yourself is a good thing. Maybe it is. Maybe this will lead me somewhere in my practice and in my head that I'm not anticipating, but right now, it's maddening.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Hmm. Yes. I know these feelings. I'm not a competitive person by nature either, and yet, sometimes, I slip and find that fiery competitor's edge in me. Even if it's competing with, well, ME.

As for standing bow... I had a teacher tell me awhile ago that people usually drop their upper body down way too quickly, that really it should be the last thing to come down and that, yes, you should concentrate on getting a compression in your back and a good kick before trying to bring your upper body parallel with the floor. This is bound to throw off your balance, especially if you were used to doing the pose a different way.

But maybe, rather than think of it as "competition" with yourself, maybe think of it as you just pushing your practice further. I mean, you can still push, but push gently, forgivingly, lovingly. Easier said some days than others, I know.

And now I will end this never-ending comment. Sorry! Just too much to say! :)

Dorothy said...

I like your thinking. I need to adjust. And I love your comments. Make 'em as long as you want!