Day 61: Why Compete?

There’s a lot of buzz in our studio about the November 4th North Carolina Regional Championships that my studio is hosting. As a result, I, or someone next to me, will be asked, “Are you competing?” When I say, “Yes, are you?” I typically get a “Well….I don’t know….I don’t know that I can do it….I’m thinking about it….I just don’t know.”

There could be many reasons why someone might not know if they should compete or not. In writing this post, I’m only thinking about one possible reason someone might say no or be on the fence. And that reason is you think you won’t be very good/can’t do it.

My response: Don’t think like that. Don’t even worry about what you can’t do or if you’ll be very good. I don’t think that has to be the point of these competitions.

For example, my floor bow (one of the required competition postures) is medicore at best. I can easily point you to four competitors who have a much nicer floor bow than me and who will likely score higher than me. If I were to get caught up in that it would be depressing, and I wouldn’t go on. Instead, I enjoy the beauty of their postures when I get the chance to see them.

Do you know what the wonderful thing about competing is? First, it gives you the chance to think more deeply about your practice. You really get to pay close attention to a handful of postures in a different way. Second, it’s an opportunity for you to go some place new with your practice. Preparing for competition will push you. How much it pushes you is really up to you. Let’s keep it all in perspective.  Is it your first time doing a yoga competition? Then try making the focus on you and what you can achieve.  That’s my best advice.

I’ve heard multiple times that people are nervous about entering because they don’t want to come in last place. Who cares? That’s not me having a bad attitude. For me, the place I come in isn’t important. What’s important is everything leading up to the actual competition. If you can focus on the postures and yourself, and not others (including the judges), then I think you’ll get so much out of it. We’ll all all leave the competition so much better for the work we did.

At my studio, we hear that this competition is really a demonstration of where each of us is with our practice. However, most of us have grown up in a culture where the purpose of a competition isn’t to show others where we are but to pound everyone else into submission and take first place. That is a hard thing to let go of. See if you can let it go just a little bit and open yourself up to the possibility that a competition could really be about you, what you can accomplish, and where you can go.

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