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No Comparison: The Dangers of Differentiation.

July 3, 2011

We humans are a species that has a hard time with contentment.   We’re born strivers, after all. We move through life in the relentless pursuit of advancement, in work, in relationships, in fitness, and even in our Yoga.  When we see a pair of oh-so-perfect yoga pants making the Trikonasana next to us look enviably good, (or see a brand-new mat unroll in the next row), it’s easy to get a little distracted. When we see someone else in class, on the Internet, in a magazine, launch into a beautiful pose that’s beyond our progression, the chances are good that we’ll want to try it. Furtive side-to-side glances in the studio mirror reveal bodies both closer to and further from our own concept of ideal form, making us alternately smug and despairing of our own physicalities. Interviews with fellow yogis and yoginis make us question our own iteration of the lifestyle. (“Why can’t I just disappear for a two-month-long teacher training on a mountain overlook in Tibet, anyhow?!”) The examples go on and on.
It’s a trap.
We look to others for inspiration. Unfortunately, in so doing we often end up simply setting up comparisons between ourselves to those we’re inspired by. If that seems harmless enough, take heed: if you’re not careful, those comparisons can cripple you both physically and financially.  Once you’ve succumbed to the cycle of comparison, it never ends.  Think about it: If you get caught up in the “toys” of yoga you see around us, life will become an endless series of purchases.  If you push your body beyond its limits, afraid you won’t measure up to the standard set by the other bodies around you in the studio or in the yoga community at large, the resulting injuries will set you paradoxically back in your progression. If you continually adopt and discard faddish practices, you’ll never find your own.
Here’s the antidote: yoga. True yoga. Unity. There are no comparisons between equal parts of a whole.
If you live your life in a state of constant comparison, you’ll always find yourself lacking. Look instead at what you bring to the banquet, and humbly offer those qualities in gratitude. Allow the feeling of inspiration to wash over you, but don’t let it sweep you out to sea. Contentment will allow you to relax into the full expression of yourself, unhindered by the comparisons that keep you from the experience of unity that’s so basic to the practice of yoga.
And that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?


Annette O’Neil lives in the Utah mountains, (when she’s not playing passport bingo). During her free moments, you’ll find her baking vegan cupcakes, riding her motorcycle in the canyons, skydiving and playing on her yoga mat.

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