Stay On Your Own Mat… In Yoga + Life

From Competition To Self Love In Yoga + Beyond

By Laura Harvey

The best yoga advice I ever received came via my best friend.

She knows that I struggle with my competitive nature and the way it drives me to compare my performance to that of others.

One day when I was complaining about not being confident enough in my yoga skills to come to her very serious studio she looked me in the eye and told me this: “Stay on your own mat.”

The phrase seems simple enough. But as a woman recovering from an eating disorder, that simple task is complicated by body conscious apparel, walls made of mirrors, and the athletic task at hand.

While I assume many people are simply thinking about balancing in a pose or maintaining their strength, I frequently find myself wondering just what my ass looks like to the person behind me. Needless to say, the fear of my body not pleasing the others in the room detracts from just what yoga is supposed to be about: finding peace and honoring your body.

Recently, I have decided to set a goal for myself before each class of staying on my own mat.

What does that mean?

It means that sometimes I let myself take child’s pose instead of downward dog because my shoulders are tired.

Sometimes it means that I’m done after fifty minutes, instead of the preordained fifty-five, and I take shivasana earlier than the others in the room.

And then I promise myself that I will be proud for showing up and for listening to my own body rather than the self-loathing voice that society promotes.

Staying on my own mat is how I stay healthy.

We’d all like to think that an eating disorder or a lack of self-esteem is behind us completely, but I have found that maintaining a positive outlook requires constant vigilance. There will always be reasons to drag yourself down—that is reality.

Only the self-love and forgetting all the bullshit will get us through the day.

So next time you head to yoga, or whatever kind of workout you do, keep the focus on yourself and your mission, whether it’s to de-stress, stay healthy, or have fun with friends. A workout should always build you up.