Yoga is Not a Competitive Sport
I’m a big fan of Yoga–I believe it is an excellent movement practice, and I incorporate a lot of yoga movements into my personal training and coaching sessions; as well as my own personal movement practice. However, I work with many clients who hire me to help them heal and recover from yoga injuries and there are a some common themes I have noticed over the years.
As with most movement related injuries, I find that the driving factor leading into an injury is one’s mindset. With Yoga injuries specifically, I quite often sense a level of competition (either with oneself or in the dynamics of a group class) that pushes them to move beyond their body’s ability, placing them at physical risk.
At its essence, Yoga is about developing a conscious connection with your body to explore movement both externally and internally. It is about listening to the body’s subtle queues of what is a healthy vs an unhealthy movement. It is not about looking just like the instructor, the person next to you, or pushing through a painful movement to achieve a “perfect” pose. If you’re trying to compete or “do it right,” you are in fact doing it wrong, and possibly hurting your body. Which, by the way, goes completely against the whole point of a healthy Yoga practice.
To be present with yourself, focus on the exploration of movement and less on the the end range goal of a pose. Pay attention to your thoughts and check in for healthy pain free movement with questions such as: What am I experiencing in this moment? Is this movement painful? Does it feel safe? Exploring yourself from a very mindful space instead of “I’ve got to beat my last pose”, or “look at that person next to me. I’m not doing good enough”. If you listen to your body and use it as a tool for gradual change, Yoga is great. It is a fantastic exploration of self through movement. But if you are exploring Yoga through judgement or competition, you may be wading into treacherous waters
Want to learn more on how to develop a healthy Yoga movement practice? Check out this great article written by my good friend Amanda Patti Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire: Bridging the Gap between Yoga and Movement.