With those upbringings, I went on my mission. A little known fact is that Mormons actually do play sports (right Vinny ;)). And it was in the last city that I lived in that I had a companion who loved sports. All sports. And what he loved most of all, was competition. We played basketball, soccer, and football, and eventually, that competitiveness rubbed off. Suddenly, I became a winner. Not in the winner/loser type of way, in the "I feel a strong desire to win, and feel disappointed if I don't."
This has been both a joy and a curse. I've learned to slough it off in most situations where it's not appropriate, like in board games with family and stuff, but have still felt it about physical games. It has made it so that I perform better than I normally would at things I haven't done in a while. I'm still not great at them, but I certainly hold my own, and don't fold my arms. That aggressive, competitive nature that usually comes naturally to people, did not come naturally for me. I had to learn it. And once I felt what it was like to be competitive, it was a little addictive. I began being a little competitive in classes, in online debates, and I assume, in other subtle ways that have slipped by my consciousness. The issue with being competitive though, is that it stresses you out.
So, I took Yoga. And for the first time in a long time, I did something physical without feeling competitive. I didn't notice it last week, I just noticed that Yoga was hard. I stood in the poses, and I focused on them. Only them. Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B, breath, shoulders back, pelvic loop, and spine alignment. And breath. I worked myself as hard as I could without even noticing there was anyone there but me and the instructor. And when I left, oh, I can't even describe the feeling of euphoria that I felt. And wasn't that the point? This isn't a work out class for me, it's a time for meditation. A time to think about one simple thing at a time: my pose, my breathe, my being.
"Come on Paul!"
"Uh..." I was honestly taken aback a little, "I'm about to throw up man."
The workout continues and I've lost the ability to just focus on me. I try to get it back, but can do nothing but look around at the people who are doing the poses when I'm not. So, I start doing the poses again. I luckily had the good sense to keep resting when I felt sick to my stomach, but continued comparing myself to everyone else. Finally, the end of the class period comes, and with it comes the voice of my new found trainer.
"Rough day huh?"
"Yeah, I haven't worked out in literally two years and it's catching up with me."
"Yeah, I really don't work out either, well, I guess I'm a cyclist..."
I honestly wanted to punch him.
"Well, you know, I usually do some of the easier poses at home, and even if you just stand while flexing all your muscles, it really helps in here."
I didn't even answer, I just picked up my mat, block and strap, and walked them to the storage room.
Now, I'm not mad at him (not much anyway); he just sees the class differently than I do. He sees it as a workout class, like aerobics. And if we were in aerobics I would appreciate his feedback. I would need to hear, "come on Paul," to keep me swinging my arms and pushing myself to get the best work out possible. The issue is that I see it as a meditation class, which means that I don't want feedback. I don't want criticism, and I don't want compliments either. The only thing I want to hear from anyone in there is that it was nice to have me there. That they like my aura, or something chill and non-evaluating. I left the class without that wonderful feeling of no stress and being one with the world. All I could think about was how much I sucked at Yoga.