The Thief

When I was a younger yoga practitioner, first starting out, I constantly measured my progress and what I thought I “should” do by looking at the people around me.  “Oh, that person has their head on the floor.  Why isn’t my head on the floor?  I should be able to do that.  I am younger/been doing this longer/skinnier.”  Or, “I’ll never be able to do that, because that person is younger/been doing this longer/skinnier.”  As a result, I was really missing out on the depths of the practice.  The last couple of years, I practiced Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga.  If you aren’t familiar with that, well, here’s how it works.  You go into the studio.  The instructor isn’t instructing the group as a whole, but working through the room, offering individual guidance and instruction to each student.  While there is a led version of the class where you are learning corporately, the Mysore practice is individual as opposed to led.  You learn the sequence from the teacher, and you start when you get there with whatever poses that you’ve been given by the teacher, from the series, while the teacher gives the benefit of instruction as needed.  For more on Mysore Ashtanga, visit this website.  Each person starts with a series of Surya Namaskar A & B, and then moves into the held asanas (poses). When you do see someone, they are rarely in the same pose as you, so there isn’t anything to compare against.  That really cuts the opportunity for chatter.  Also, you tend to practice with the same rough group most mornings, and then you know how hard everyone is working.  So, when your buddy manages to break through to something new, it is thrilling.  A victory for one is a victory for all of you.  Also, it becomes evident that everyone has a struggle.  Everyone.  Some folks can’t open their side bodies so well (in poses like triangle), or some struggle in headstand.  (Well, most struggle in headstand.  Although I was just in a vinyasa class where this one guy held it for minutes, and seemed like he could have stayed there all day).

You can’t predict how someone’s yoga practice is going to go by how they look.  People will surprise you every time.  You also can’t judge what you will be able to do by how you look.  If you continue the practice, you will surprise yourself with what you can do.

Yoga is about finding union between your body, mind and spirit.  Your body, mind and spirit.  The breath links it all together.  If you are looking over at someone else, thinking of your shortcomings, or theirs, or taking pride in doing something that someone else can’t do, you are robbing yourself of the benefits of yoga.

Recently, I was in a gentle yoga class with Kyczy Hawk, who is an amazingly knowledgable, intuitive teacher, with a sense of humor that makes me bark out loud with laughter.  She is funny and wise.  During class, she said, “Comparison is the stealer of joy.  Stop comparing and enjoy yourself.”  While that is something I do know, it’s always good to have a reminder, and it has stuck with me all week, so I think I must have needed to remember it.

Expanding that concept outward, where is comparison your Achilles’ Heel?  Do you compare your house, car, kids, job, talents against someone else?  Let me know in the comments if you plan on taking action somewhere in your life.  And today, when I look at my old red couch with all the smushed cushions, I won’t think of my friends who are impeccable housekeepers with showroom ready furniture.  Oops…I already did.  I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else.


8 thoughts on “The Thief

  1. Glenn says:

    Great post! Comparison is defined as the act of looking at things to see how they are similar or different. Perfectly innocent and often needed to find opportunities for growth. But….for me it’s a slippery slope to the dark side because I tend to personalize it particularly on the Mat. Why aren’t my hips that open? Why is their psoas so open and mine seems to be pissed off!?Why doesn’t my store bought knee have the range of motion as everyone else, should I return it for new one? How did the comparison thief break in and steal my joy? I am learning that I can shine a light on him to let him know that I see him, take an inhale, and then exhale him out the window. Allowing me to appreciate the differences and the similarities on the Mat and see the beauty and the opportunities for growth.


  2. Jovanna says:

    I can totally relate. Working through my vulnerabilities have been a long and slow process. Not feeling adequate enough to use my voice to speak my truth has always been one of my Achilles heels. When I’m in a yoga class following a teacher who has the gift of speaking with ease and fluidity, I celebrate them with admiration and hope that I will someday acquire that gift. But for that I may need more time to sort things out within myself. Thank goodness for the mat! Thank you for speaking your truth! ❤️


  3. Katie says:

    I love this post. I can very easily fall into comparing, especially when faced with meeting new people. Often when I find myself in the comparison mindset, it leaves me with a feeling of scarcity. I think that there isn’t enough of _____ and ultimately that I’m not worthy of said ______. But if I can pull myself back into the present moment and relish in all that I have to be grateful for right in this moment, well, that’s where my magic happens. Life is abundant and plentiful and I am always capable of finding something to be grateful for. Recently I was struggling to find something so I decided to be grateful for my elbows! As silly as that sounds, it helped me get out of that comparison mode and find my joy-even if it was the joy of my elbows! 🙂


    • kaphayogi says:

      That is awesome. I also have a scarcity mindset. I’ve had an awful lot of times in my life where there really wasn’t enough, and it makes it hard to settle down and be satisfied with who I am and the abundance that I have around me. And elbows are rad.


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