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The concept of competition is an intriguing one for me. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a naturally competitive person so, I find it challenging to relate to the purported benefits of motivation or inspiration that the phenomenon is supposed to invoke. Meanwhile, I must confess that I understand too well the less pleasant feelings of jealousy, arrogance, insecurity, fear and loneliness that more often accompany competitive situations for me.

I wouldn’t doubt it if someone told me that I am missing something. I would very much welcome some clarification.

Meanwhile, I will make the following attempt at an explanation for myself.

I suspect that we are not so separate – you and I. For example, the fingers of one hand might be compared with those on the other; yet each of their functions are also my own. In a similar manner, a┬ádance performance is awe-inspiring not usually because of just one dancer, but because of the collaborative effort of many. So, the background dancers need to be just as proficient as the principal in order to achieve an overall effect. Such beauty is found in coordination.

However, if we lose one hand, we might learn to increase the functionality of the remaining limbs and thus, be able to compensate and carry on. That is indicative of potential. I could therefore understand an argument for the general improvement of all parts in order to uncover that possibility without the need for a drastic amputation.

But what is the need for “competition”?

One of the beautiful things about yoga – and perhaps life in general – is that no experience can ever be exactly the same as another. Each moment, each breath is unique and can never be repeated in the exact manner. So how do we make comparisons when the objects being compared are not even comparable?

I’d like to propose that as each moment is unique, our practice may not be to “improve” as much as it is to “experiment” and “discover” the possibilities that are offered in that moment. By being truly present, we can really open ourselves to experience. (Some days my best dancer’s pose is on my back with my eyes closed…)

Following this, I find it no easier to imagine how my practice might be compared with another’s than to compare how my dancer’s pose today may be compared to my dancer’s pose yesterday. We are each stars of our own expedition.

Nonetheless, there is an undeniable energy when practicing in a group despite our individual focus. Awareness of those around us encourage us to hold on longer than we might on our own. Cues from each other set the rhythm to which we might synchronize breath and movement.

Few of us may know what the overall choreography for the Universe is, but I believe we each have an equally important part to play. Sometimes you are ahead; sometimes you are not. But ultimately, this isn’t just my practice or your practice; it’s ours.