Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What kind of yogi are you?

I'm the worst kind: Competitive. I know I know, that totally defeats the purpose of yoga. You're supposed to relax, and zone everything out. It's supposed to be a zen-like experience, but honestly for me it rarely is.

This weekend I went to a yoga class for the first time in about two weeks, but I didn't let that stop me from trying to keep up with the girl to my left. She had a long, lean dancer's body with perfectly sculpted arms, and I was bound and determined to take the bitch down.

As far as I could tell at the beginning of class, we were about equal. Her heels touched the ground when she was in downward facing dog, and she did slow, controlled Chaturanga push-ups just like me. Damnit. Instead of really focusing on my breathing and poses, I found myself praying that the teacher would have us do side planks. That's where I'll get her, I thought. And then, we did!

There are many variations of the side plank, but this one is the hardest (at least that I know of). I was a little wobbly as I got into position because I was trying to nonchalantly look out of the corner of my eye to see which variation the skinny bitch was doing. Ha--she just did the normal version, with her legs stacked on top of each other. YESSSS. Now I'm in the lead!

But then, we did the dreaded crow pose. I have a pretty strong upper body, so the fact that I cannot get my knees to rest behind my arms for more than a split second is puzzling to me. The skinny bitch effortlessly sprang her legs up and looked as if she could hold the position all day. Damn.

At this point we were in a tie. I knew that if we did headstands, she would come out the victor. And we did. My headstands are getting a lot better--I don't have the fear of falling like I used to; however, when I slowly start raising my legs higher and higher, I get so excited that I'm actually doing it that I usually end up spazzing out and toppling over. And yep, you guessed it, the skinny bitch aced the headstands too.

I guess the teacher picked up on the little competition I had going on because she told the class, "Don't worry about what the person next to you is doing." Oops. Sorry teach, I just can't help it!

So we ended the class with the full wheel and I did mine standing on one leg. SB did hers normal, so I suppose I beat her there, but at this point I was already feeling defeated.

I know that this is something I need to work on if I want to fully reap the benefits of yoga. Lord knows I need more relaxation and meditation in my life. It's going to be a hard habit to break--you guys remember from this post that I'm even competitive walking up the stairs! But, I'm going to try.

What about you: Are you competitive at the gym? And for all the yogis out there: How would you describe your style?


  1. Oh I'm super-competitive. I can't lie. The key to crow is all in the fingers -- lean your weight forward just past your comfort point and and use your fingers to keep from toppling over. Headstands, squeeze your abs and never let your butt go past your head. That's my former-gymnastics-coach tips, now go show that skinny bitch what's up! Haha.

  2. This is why I cannot do Yoga. Instead I stick with a pilates tape at home!

  3. ELLEN! i cannot believe you are a competitive yogi!! that's why i get intimidated to go to yoga classes here. i did a hot yoga class once in nashville-i was so excited because i had heard so many good things, and the yoga classes i had been taking were very restorative (probably because i took them with a 5 person senior citizen group) and they had done wonders in helping me focus on breathing, feel awesome and limber, and just RELAX...i have never been as stressed out as i was in the hot yoga class. the girls were SO competitive i couldn't even enjoy myself!

    although i do know what you mean by having those SBs next to you in class....

  4. I am not a competitive yogi, and it's a good thing, because I can't do that side plank or crow! I blame it on long legs :) I am pretty good at wheel though and have gotten much better at balancing moves. I am just happy to see improvement from week to week.

  5. This was one of the funniest things I have read in a while...awesome and true! I always try to see how fast the person next to me on the treadmill is running, or how much guys my size can lift. I'm not trying to be competitve exactly, I just want to see what is possible so that I can push myself up to that level.

  6. Kara, I'm going to try those tips!!! I'm just sooo scared to face-plant doing the crow. It totally freaks me out. But I'll give 'em a try and report back. SB better WATCH OUT! haha

    Well Becca, aren't you just the picture of perfection? Juuust kidding. I wish I was more like you! I need to invest in blinders or something so I can't see the people around me!! It's just too tempting.

    LIS...I've never gotten into Pilates...do you really like it?

    Glad you can relate, George. I'm competitive on the treadmill too! Not so much with pumping iron, though.

    And MA, there are classes in NYC that aren't intimidating. Let's go to one at NYSC together. And trust me, I'm not the intimidating at all. Just competitive, in a subtle way...

  7. Oh my gosh so glad it isn't just me. My physical therapist got on me today about being competitive. I am just now up to running 1 mile again (first time since April -- darn boot and surgery!). I came back in and said, "Chip, I ran it is 10 min. and 15 sec. today and I lapped the walker twice." He just shook his head! :-) And, I must confess pre-injury I used to chase down people on the sidewalk and pass them (especially when it was a guy) -- Oops!

    I love yoga too, but I am competitive as well. More on the flexibility part as that's is my strength. Doing hot yoga helps me relax though as I cannot be as competitive since I'm concentrating on -- oh, not passing out! Ha ha!

  8. Ellen,
    I do really like Pilates. Granted I do a DVD since I am so broke but I feel energized when I am done. I'm not as focused on the relaxation as I am on getting the moves right. I use a beginner pilates DVD from Gaiam (www.gaiam.com or Target). They break it down into beginner and slightly more advanced moves so you can use the DVD for a bit before you are too advanced for it. Since I only do it once or twice a week it's a good DVD for the price!

  9. OK, so I guess I have to admit that I had one competitive moment at yoga last night :) I was glad we did wheel at the end, but the young girl next to me got up first and was complimented! Oh well!

  10. Cool, LIS, I think I may actually have some pilates DVD somewhere in my apartment! Is it mostly ab work though? I like yoga because it stretches the entire body.

    Yeah, Becs, I always get jealous when other people are complimented by the teacher. I had ONE moment of glory when the teacher had the entire class watch me do my full wheel. It was awesome. (The fact that there were only 6 people in the class--all over the age of 40--is besides the point ;)).

  11. ellen, you are cracking me UP! and reading all these comments, i'm reminded why, as a yoga teacher, i need to remember never to compliment people's form, but instead their concentration :)

    i took a mini-class BLINDFOLDED the other day! i thought the point was to practice feeling your alignment, but maybe it was secretly intended to cure competitiveness!

  12. This was an awesome, funnny post! I do Ashtanga yoga and the instructor moves too fast for me to be able to observe anyone else. We also don't seem to hold any pose for too long. But meh, this is one place I won't even try to get competitive.

  13. OMG, Sarah, I can't believe you did a class blindfolded!!! Was it hard? Did you like it? Don't think I'll be trying that any time soon!