I’ve been practicing yoga for more than 2 decades. My pigeon pose has probably reached its full expression. There just isn’t much more opening to be found in these old hips. My Pigeon Pose is a humble Pigeon Pose.
I often find myself surrounded by yogis with extraordinarily beautiful Pigeon Poses. Yogis who can bring their shin perpendicular to their spine and then lie their chest right down on it. Or yogis who come into full upright Pigeon, bend their back knee and balance perfectly in Mermaid Pose. Or the few who can reach overhead and hold the foot of their back leg lightly in their hands as they gaze upward into the eyes of the divine. Can you hear my jealousy?
I’ve envied me many a Pigeon. With no other option on the table, I humbly proceeded to work at Pigeon Pose at my bodies pace. I practice Pigeon Pose nearly every day not for its beauty, but because my body feels better when I do. Pigeon Pose feels delicious regardless of what it looks like.
The other day, I found myself once again noticing everyone else’s achievements in Pigeon Pose. I was comparing my Pigeon with other yogi’s Pigeons. I can tell you exactly who was deeper in their Pigeon than I was. I can tell you exactly who has tighter hips than I do. As I was cataloguing all the Pigeon Pose’s in the classroom I had an ‘aha’ moment: the process of comparison was keeping me separated from others. My internal dialogued, simplified, was: “He’s better than me.” “She’s tighter than me.”
This internal dialogue enhanced my sense of isolation and specialness. It fed my ego, the good and bad of my ego, and it kept me alone. This sense of loneliness through comparison is an old familiar feeling.
I’ve recently been chanting a simple mantra during my meditation: “not-separate.” Softening into ‘not-separate’ has changed my perspective on the world. I’m more connected with people. I smile more easily. I’m less attached to who I think I am. I am more able to give fully of myself. I am less afraid to be my true self.
Gradually, I find myself letting go of my need to compare myself to others. I find myself able to practice Mudita, empathic joy. Not just in theory, but really enjoying the accomplishments of others. If I am not separate, then their accomplishment is also my accomplishment. Mudita is a delicious way to expand my experience of life.
So when your yoga teacher reminds you not to compare yourself with others, it’s for real and for realization. It’s to help protect you from injuring yourself. It’s to help you practice Mudita and ‘Not Separate. As this deepening occurs, the world might just open up and swallow you whole. You might step right into Krishna’s mouth and experience the glory of all that is. You might wake up.