In yoga, you let go… of tension, of pride, and definitely of comparison with your fellow yoga students. Focusing deeply on your breath and the feel of each muscle should leave you with a serene contemplation of your own navel.
That said…. you remember the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Lieutenant Barclay has a holodeck program with himself as the swashbuckling hero and his shipmates as incompetent buffoons? Confession time: that is kind of me in yoga class, sometimes.
In my mind, I’m on my head, which is surprisingly not messing up my awesome perky perfect ponytail or my breezy yoga-themed tank top. My lengthy limbs do not quiver as they hover, and my awesome fancy yoga mat smells of lavender (not a faint aroma of feet. Which I have never ever noticed, for the record.) The other students try valiantly to keep up as they steal glances over to imitate my form.
Of course that is about as far from reality as Barclay’s holodeck program. I’m awkward, I’m sweaty, and I tend to giggle when I don’t get a pose the first time, breaking everyone’s zen. Thinking that way is also completely counterproductive to yoga class, naturally–so I do my best to banish those thoughts back to the impish recesses of my mind, where I’m constantly mentally eating Cadbury crème eggs and starring in Hamilton as every character.
But we are mere humans, after all, and it’s still hard not to catch yourself comparing age, weight, or type of personality. Oh that one there? Only an ensign on her first assignment. Pish! That one? Yipes, she’s in the inner circle with Riker and Troi. Your fellow students might be even… gasp!… non-geeks… normals… the worst kind of muggles imaginable. (I reserve the right to mix fandoms!)
It’s ok to notice. It’s even ok to seek out a yoga class where you feel comfortable, with other Ravenclaws, for instance, or with any Hufflepuff. You will ALWAYS be able to lift your leg higher than a Hufflepuff, right?! (Ha, just kidding, Puff friends, you know I love you.) You should be in a class that’s good for the level where you are, not the level you wish to be or where you were six months ago. And you certainly want to feel like you can be your sweaty and weirdly awkward self in front of your fellow students.
Nevertheless, those amazing yogis on their amazing headstands and the very beginning students are people too, people you can learn from, people similar to you in so many ways. We’re all stationed on this ship together, doing our own tasks. Yoga is wonderful in that there are no points and no trophies for Best Pose. It’s just about you, being you, stretching what it means to be you, and honoring others as they do the same. Like Barclay, once you calm down and focus on what’s at hand, and not who has those hands, you can be an asset to your class environment–and vice versa.
Who knows, you might even end up saving Voyager later. But first… out of the holodeck.