The next time you feel like judging: A cautionary tale

15 Dec
This is what #winning should look like in yoga - if at all.

This is what #winning should look like in yoga – if at all.

The other night I went to yoga. I know it’s not supposed to be a competitive sport – it’s all about you and your edge. In fact, most teachers encourage you to make modifications so the practice is your own. That said, for a Type A person, it’s hard to not look around the room and judge assess people.

As shameful as it is to admit, my thoughts are often along the lines of:

  • Bet I’m stronger than her.
  • Wow – bold move wearing those shorts!
  • Eww – no pedicure? Hope that’s not a communal mat!

Tacky, I know, and I’m constantly working to turn off the judgmental voice in my head.

The other night was a good reminder. I was one of the last people to show up, so I tucked my mat between two women who were stretching before class. I began stretching as well, and in doing so, noticed that the woman to my right had an incredibly hairy shin. Hairy enough that I did a double-take on her face to make sure she wasn’t a man.

Indeed, it was a woman.

Once I confirmed that, I thought, “Well, it *is* Movember. Maybe she’s not shaving as part of the whole prostate cancer solidarity thing.” (If you’re not familiar, that IS a real thing. Check out this link.)

And to be fair, I’m lazy so my legs are lucky if they see a razor more than once a week. Even so – let’s note that I felt totally fine judging a stranger for her leg hair. (I am really a horrible person.)

So class starts. We do our sun salutations, our downward dogs, our vinyasas.

And from the corner of my eye, I’m watching my mat-mates, confirming that I’m executing the moves better than they are in some way. Building myself up because I’m the best in my row. Because yoga is a competitive sport, as it turns out.

About half-way through class, our instructor shifts gears and we go into balancing poses. “Tree,” she announces, and everyone shifts on to one leg, lifting the other to demonstrate balance.

The hairy-legged woman to my right drops to the mat and relaxes in child’s pose, not even attempting tree. Feeling victorious, I balance and extend my arms. Then – doing what I’m not supposed to do – I shift my eyes away from their “fixed point.” This move is guaranteed to make me wipe out. But I can’t help it, because I’ve just noticed something as my mat-mate shifts from child’s pose into her own version of tree: she has one leg.

Yes. I’ve spent half the class competing (in my own mind) with a woman whom I’ve judged for not shaving – and now I’m realizing that she is missing part of her leg and has a prosthesis lying on the floor next to her.

Image Source: http://images.elephantjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Screen-shot-2010-12-14-at-10.42.34-PM-500x346.png

OUCH. I’m such a dumbass.

While it was fresh in my mind, I was quick to write down a few lessons:

  • Careful how you define “winning.”
  • Question your motivation to compete in the first place.
  • Ask yourself if you’re putting others down to boost yourself up.

Oh. And never forget the old adage that you can’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Or on her prosthesis. And also? She was clearly better at yoga than I was. 

Giving thanks for humility this year. Thanks, universe, for reminding me we’re all One.

 

 

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3 Responses to “The next time you feel like judging: A cautionary tale”

  1. thesinglecell December 16, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Well if that’s not the universe smacking you in the back of the head…
    Happens to everybody. It’s actually a big part of the reason I developed an apparently unhealthy tendency to give people more credit/consideration than they deserve. Because I feel like you never know when they’re going to turn out to only have one leg.

  2. Karen March 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    How did I miss this one? Definitely one of my favorites. Can absolutely hear your voice in every word. P.S. How’s the no competing thing going? 😉

    • pithypants April 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      Would it make sense if I told you I was winning?

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