Practice vs. Performance On and Off the Yoga Mat

I came across a beautiful blog today on Everyday Yogini.  Nona writes about “staying on your mat.”  Like Nona, I’ve sometimes let my mind wander to what other students are doing, how they are doing in comparison to myself.  I think we’ve all probably stepped uninvited onto the yoga mats of others.  Perhaps it’s our competitive nature, or a learned activity to want to out-do those around us, to be the best.  Only when we take a step back and stay, as Nona suggests we should, on our own mat, do we see that comparisons and judgments are ultimately futile.  It’s funny (or maybe it’s the universe telling me something) I also read this quote today from Yogi Swatmarama, the yogic sage who introduced Hatha Yoga: “Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga, but not one who is lazy.  Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” It definitely takes some practice to remain focused on the self and at the same time be selfless.  It’s difficult whether we’re in a yoga studio or out in the world.  Nona of Everyday Yogini describes her attempt to manage her huband’s relationship with their new puppy.  How many things have I tried to manage in the lives of family members?  Too many.  How many things within myself that needed change was I blind to because I was on someone else’s mat?  Yogi Swatmarama’s words give me hope.  He says anyone can succeed in yoga.  That means you and me.  He also says constant practice is key, and I have a feeling he doesn’t mean we should necessarily practice tree pose in line at the grocery store.  He means practice in life as well as in poses.  He acknowledges that everyone needs practice.  When in life is the performance anyway?  When in yoga is the performance?  The answer to both questions is the same.  There is no performance.  The whole thing is practice, which means we don’t need to get stage-fright.  We just need to breathe and, as our own dear Sarah Robinette says, “show up to the best of our abilities.”