What is it about being in a yoga class that makes me revert to 6-year-old behavior?

I try so much harder when the instructor is close to me, then let down when she walks away. I feel defeated when I fall and the guy next to me is still standing.I’m devastated when I have to sit down from exhaustion and my neighbor looks like she’s in no pain at all. I get really, really angry when the teacher is helping somebody out and delays her countdown by one second.

The teacher says to concentrate on myself and my breath. She says that the only progress that matters is my own progress over last class. Unfortunately, I can’t control my competitiveness and my need to please her.

I crave the compliment more than anything. I live for it in that moment. I want her to tell me my half tortoise pose is better than last time because it totally is and she’s not even noticing.I even smile a little bit at her as I go into the next pose, raise my eyebrows and almost mouth the words, “Check me out.”

But this is Yoga to the People. There are 50 people in class and compliments are hard to come by. Wait, she just complimented that guy, really? Devastating.


Some more experience Yogis might say I’m not doing it right. That I need to change my whole philosophy if I want to get the real benefits.The funny thing is, I’ve accepted this 6-year-old reversion and have even come to be thankful for it.

I think it’s a good thing, once in a while, to revert to our juvenile selves, and I’m happy that I have yoga to help me do that.There are so many other, more complicated thoughts that aren’t running around my head when I’m thinking about my neighbor’s impeccable camel pose and how jealous I am of it.

Those immature thoughts are much simpler than the anxiety, the questioning, and the real insecurities that often plague me during the day.

For once, I’m not distracted by the countless emails, texts, and links floating in the periphery. I start to feel my attention span rekindling itself. My childish competitiveness and infantile need to please are the things I need to stay in the moment, to stay determined. If I didn’t have those thoughts, I would probably get bored or distracted and not push myself. Determination is hard thing to find in life, and this is the path that works for me.

So maybe I’m not practicing yoga in the most authentic way, but I am getting what I want out of the session; a complete physical exertion, increased flexibility, and most importantly, a reset of the system.

Maybe one day all those thoughts will fade away and I will have reached a higher, more peaceful level of existence.

I just hope I beat the guy next to me there.


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