It took a hardcore workout for me to realize I am an incredibly competitive person. Last year I started taking a HIIT style class three to five days a week and at 30 years old I realized I secretly wanted to compete with myself and everyone around me.
Hmmm... that 53 pound kettlebell I swung last week was pretty tough. Should I try the 62? Of course, I should try the 62! You can't settle with 53!
Sure it's probably a tad unhealthy, but I'm extremely proud of the gains I've made at the gym. I haven't injured myself and I'm (getting better at) being moderate in my workouts when my body is telling me to do so. However, the discovery of my competitive side has been fascinating. I spent a couple years as a competitive cheerleader in high school and I didn't find myself getting worked up at competitions. I put less pressure on myself because I had a badass group of girls to rely on and support me. At the gym it's just me. I have this deep drive to work hard and prove to myself that I can do anything. You want me to run my fastest quarter mile? You better believe I'll try to go faster than I did last week.
Of course I thought only the gym brought out my competitive side. Turns out I was wrong. This realization of my competitive spirit has caused me to do some major reflecting on the unique qualities of my personality.
Recently I was taking a restorative yoga class and I had this thought:
Sigh... It's so nice to not feel like I have to perform in a certain way in this class. The teacher isn't even really watching me. It's so pleasant to lay on this bolster and feel like I don't have to prove anything to anyone.
Why don't those thoughts come up in all other yoga classes?!? I should never feel like I need to perform. I should never feel like I have to do anything fancy. I've made huge strides in my personal yoga practice, but unfortunately, I reflect upon the early days of my yoga practice and my competitive nature was clearly present.
The person next to me is doing Shoulderstand. I probably should do Shoulderstand too even though I know it's not best for my neck.
I have a block next to me to support me in Splits. Although I know I should use the block, I refuse to be the only person in the room using the block.
Yoga truly is an examination of the human condition. Perhaps it's my older age that has allowed for me to slow down and realize no one cares if I'm doing Shoulderstand and no one cares if I'm using blocks to support me in Splits. Of course I have learned the error of my ways and I now preach all day long about the benefits of using props in a yoga practice.
Although I have learned to keep my competitive spirit at bay during my yoga practice, I do think my competitive side has helped me. Due to my deep desire to do better and be better I was driven to complete my 300-Hour Teacher Training last year. I've been teaching yoga for quite some time and my competitive nature won't let me settle. It's not a competition between my fellow yoga teachers and me. It's a drive to be the best teacher that I can be. I want to continue to explore my teaching not just for myself but for the benefit of my students.
Lastly, to my yoga teacher friends, the competition between us as peers can quickly rise up when we start to examine the number of students in our classes. There will always be someone who has more students than you. There will always be someone on Instagram who has more followers or likes than you. Get over it! Just be you. Give what you have to give. Those around you truly appreciate the gifts you have to provide.