The first time I ever heard this quote was on month two of my teacher training, in that environment it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. Everyone is there to train to be a teacher but there’s a clear difference in everyone’s abilities and experience.
I was constantly thinking, “I can’t get my heels down in downward dog, I can’t do a headstand, I have no idea what that person is talking about – how am I going to be a teacher when they all know so much more than me?”
The answer: stop comparing.
When we compare we rob ourselves of the things we love, we take the joy out of what we are doing and we completely ruin the experience. When we pay too much attention to our ego, we have too much attachment to the story that comes with it.
Think of it this way, you might think that you can’t be a yoga teacher until you can get your heels down in downward dog – but who says that? Is that not your own inner narrative telling you that because every teacher that has taught you thus far *can* do it?
When you think you are ‘not good enough’ or ‘too fat’ or ‘don’t have enough experience’ to do something – that’s the ego talking. The ego is limited and when we live from the ego we limit ourselves too.
In addition, when we say someone has a ‘big ego’ it usually means that they identify a little too closely with their own story, and apply their own narrative to the world in stead.
Whether our ego is saying we aren’t as good as anyone else, or that we’re better than anyone else, we are so much more than this.
We need to look inward, and play the witness: witnessing our thoughts and our own practice. Why do we practice? How does it make us feel? What can we learn from it? When we look inward we start to disassociate ourselves from the narrative and observe how we feel within that moment and that space.
Forward folds or any seated forward bends are a great way to practice playing the witness. They encourage us to look inward (largely because it’s physically impossible to look at anyone else when you are deep into a forward bend!) When you breathe deeply into a forward fold, and sink deeper into that posture, you start to forget the destination and enjoy the ride.
The introspection and stillness given to you from a forward bend allow you to focus your thoughts and emotions inward – there is only you, no one else, no comparison.
Don’t get sidetracked by what you see on someone else’s highlight reel, and don’t let your highlight reel dictate what others should be doing.
We are all unique – and that’s good! Let’s face it, if we were all the same, life would get pretty dull!