Simply Be – It’s not a competition

Guest blog post written by: Alexander Japit

At its fullest expression, the most difficult Yoga movements can look very similar to other practices such as gymnastics and calisthenics. All these practices utilize many arm balances, difficult body positions, and it seems that advanced practitioners of these disciplines are capable of defying gravity, and it is hard to tell whether someone is doing gymnastics, yoga, or calisthenics sometimes. 

Where then, does the difference lie? I believe it lies with the mindset, and while all three of these mindsets have value, I want you to entertain the idea that the yogic mindset is the most valuable force for long-lasting change, internally and externally.

Gymnastics, by definition, is a sport. The idea behind gymnastics is to perform harder movements, more jaw-dropping feats of strength, balance, grace, and other factors based on the athlete’s specialization. A sport involves athletes competing against one another to gain the upper hand and to win their competition, and gymnastics is no different.

Calisthenics is a discipline; a training modality in which the practitioner utilizes movements in various body positions to constantly progress in their strength development. The line between calisthenics and gymnastics is often unclear, but when you utilize calisthenics as a discipline for movement and strength, you do it for your own self-improvement, not to compete or become better than anyone else. In calisthenics, you are competing against yourself, to become incrementally better and always strive for the next level.

Yoga is a practice; it is a practice in which you have your moment on your mat, and you can practice awareness. Therefore, in yoga, your goal is not to compete against your fellow yogis, and there is no necessity to constantly push yourself. In yoga, there is no competition, there is a practice of awareness. Awareness of what is, where you are in the moment, awareness of your mind and your body, and from that awareness, you have clarity and choice, allowing you to make your own decision of where you want to take your practice, in every moment. More importantly, you can simply BE, without judgment and without comparison.

Once you simply BE and obtain clarity of what IS in the present moment, you can take your yoga practice anywhere, and that is perhaps the most powerful thing you could obtain.

Image courtesy of Jen Theodore

The Measure We Expect

Dorothy had the yellow brick road. I had a yellow tunnel this Sunday as I went for a walk. It had rained the day before – yellow leaves were still on the trees but a lot had fallen to the trail. All that amazing brightness jolted me awake.

I had been having a busy morning running down a to-do list that was unrealistically too long to accomplish in one day but I was determined.  The dogs needed to go outside so I decided on a quick walk for them to do their business and then back to ‘the list’.  But as I came around a corner and entered that golden tunnel I realized (without having to get all the way to Oz) that right there outside in the sun was where I needed to be.  I took the long loop on the trail and stayed out for an hour.  I enjoyed it so much I went back out that evening on a jog with the dogs – AFTER doing some yard work…which coincidentally was not on my to-do but I added it just so I could be in the fresh air.

And this is my lesson about self-care, in order for it to be effective you really do have to love yourself.  You cannot be Dorothy wandering new lands looking for someone else to give her what her heart needs (spoiler alert – she ‘wakes’ up to be exactly where she wanted). What I mean is you have to feel that love as a dedication or passion waaaaaaay deep down in your heart and soul.  Activate YOUR joy without any obligation.   Sunday, I played outside like I was five years old again because I wanted to and not because I felt I had to.

For many, the very early stages of self-care is to commit to a routine. For many that routine has a beneficial goal but why do we ultimately start it – because we are dissatisfied. We determine we are somehow not fit, in pain, we need some change. And I think that is one fundamental reason why so many fall of the self-care routine wagon. What happens when you feel more satisfied? You’ve lost the intrinsic drive and you might need more negative motivation to get back on the wagon. Definitely we need that initial impetus to grow. We definitely need to develop a commitment to a practice, a custom. But from the very beginning we should also be fostering the seeds of our passion and joy.

^Yes, this is a variation on Matthew 7:2: and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. And also goes along with Ahimsa or non-violence; one of the yoga ‘Yamas’ of conduct. This non-violence means both physical and mental AND this non-violence also means outwardly toward others or inwardly toward yourself. In what ways do you limit the joys you get by your thoughts toward yourself?

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Coro at