One of my favorite sayings in yoga is ‘focus on your own mat.’

This basically means don’t mind the 10 year yogi veteran next to you who is doing head spins and backbends a plenty, when you can barely manage a downward dog. Easier said then done, right?

No matter how ‘good’ I think I am getting, there is always someone ‘better’ than me – which can be extremely motivating, or extremely discouraging depending upon how much sleep (and coffee) I have had that day.

The tendency to compete is human nature. Everything from who holds their tree pose without swaying, to who has more Instagram followers, we are constantly faced with the choice to stop what we are doing, look around and see how we measure up. It’s enough to drive anyone bat shit cray.

This is one of the reasons I love yoga so much, it is humbling AF.

First off…you can’t cheat your way through yoga – it’s impossible to pretend to do a headstand, you either can, or you can’t – so you are forced to just succumb to who you are, and what your body is currently capable of, and grow from there.

Secondly, while most practices are guided, you are still at the mercy of your mind – I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wake up to 70+ e-mails, endless notifications, and a ‘to-do’ list a mile long, so one of the hardest things for me to do, is to simply be. Yoga requires you to do just that.

When chatting with other friends about their experiences with yoga or lack there of, I often hear people say how they would like to try it, or went once or twice but they felt like they weren’t or wouldn’t be ‘good’ at it.

I have practiced yoga for many years, but it wasn’t until I came to San Diego that I actually began to understand how yoga isn’t about being perfect at all – that is why it is called a yoga practice. The moment we achieve perfection, we stop growing. Who the eff wants to stop growing?!

I have found these same principles to be very helpful in everyday life as well.

Before, I would try to force it so I could keep up with the people around me – pose after pose struggling to go deeper by powering through each movement, instead of working through the pain and discomfort of the unfamiliar poses – breath by breath.

These days, rather than focusing on how much ‘better’ everyone is in yoga and in life, I now find myself appreciating those around me for showing me what is possible if I simply focus on my ‘mat’, and go with the flow.

So next time you feel yourself looking at those around you and questioning how you measure up, take a moment to breathe deep, quiet your mind and remember, those moments of discomfort are priceless, because it is ultimately being uncomfortable that helps us discover opportunities for growth within.

Besides, at the end of the day, the only person we should feel the need to be ‘better’ than, is the person we were yesterday. #namaslay


P.S. If you are wondering where I got this CUTE freaking yoga mat – check out Clothe + Arrow – from cacti to pineapples, they have the most awesome selection!

P.P.S. If you are looking for some awesome yoga in San Diego – check out Beachside Yoga in Pacific Beach or Yoga at Balboa Park – both are on the weekends, and the perfect way to hit the ‘reset’ button.


All photography by Henry S Young