Quit Looking at the Picture | yoga + life

Yoga Life Lessons: Quit comparing yourself to others, and pay attention to your own progress.

Posters are hung on the walls of our gym advertising their various classes. Each one pictures a person or two doing a move from the workout. These are obvious pros who perfectly execute whatever pose represents that particular workout. I've hardly paid attention to them, except when they're referenced in class.

The instructor for Bodyflow (a combination of yoga, tai chi and pilates) pointed out the pose we were doing was a yoga pose pictured in a poster in one of the other workout rooms. She mentioned it to tell us what we're aiming for in that particular pose (knees and nose in line).

A few days later, in my yoga class, we worked on the same pose. The instructor, Terri, has us sit in each pose for a minute or more. She shows us how it should look, with the variations that might be a little more comfortable for where we are, especially for the length of time we'll be in it.

My left heel rests under my butt and my right heel lies beside my left hip in efforts to line my knees on top of each other in front of me. I settle in noting obvious points of discomfort, but overall feeling pretty good about my form in this particular pose.

Terri makes her rounds to note improvements we can make, also referencing the poster where this posture is near perfectly pictured. She, however, tells us to ignore the poster and instead pay attention to where we are in our own progress. She follows that up with noting, "I learned yoga when I quit looking at the picture."

Looking at the pictures of perfect postures causes us to want to jump to where they are, ignoring what it takes to get there. Pushing our bodies to mold how we think they should look, without realizing that we're cheating ourselves out of making our own progress.

Pictures of apparent perfection are all around us. We pin them to our boards on Pinterest, we stalk them on Facebook, we follow them in our favorite blogs, we read them in our magazine subscriptions, we watch them on TV or see them in movies. We like to believe that they're simply inspiration--that they somehow help us get closer to where we want to be. The truth is: we don't get where we want to be until we quit looking at the picture.

We have to pay attention to where we are in the journey. To learn acceptance of this stage in our lives without the unnecessary pressure of comparing it to someone else's level of apparent perfection.

This may be taken a little out of context, but I love these words from Paul that describes this concept...
We will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us... and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment. | 2 Corinthians 10:13, 16
I especially love the follow up to this in verse 17...
But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.
And there is the true picture of perfection we should be seeking.


also read:
It's Not About Success + Failure
Why I Quit My Yoga Class
Christian Meditation