Today I attended a beginners yoga class taught by a good friend at the gym she and her husband own. She warned me ahead of time it was a very easy class and that most of the participants would have only been to yoga one or two times. This was just the second week they had offered the class at the gym.
My friend taught a good class, with simple poses and flow series. But it was obvious many of the people had little to no exposure to yoga. I found myself snickering inside watching them wobble in triangle or struggle to figure out what to do with their feet in the warrior poses. I also found myself wanting to say things or offer adjustments to correct their alignment and positioning. When I was gracefully flowing between reverse warrior and extended side angle I felt good about myself and how accomplished I was at yoga. While balancing in tree and warrior 3, I felt smug that I could hold my balance better than others.
Then I got a hold of myself and realized what a jerk I was being. How un-yogic of me to judge the others in the class! Those people came to the space on their mats, just as I did. Their starting place may not have been the same as mine, but one of the great things about yoga is we all get to start just where we are with no judgment. We come to our mats with no thought of where we were the day before or where would be the next day, but simply where we are in our practice at that exact moment.
I felt terrible. I realized I had been those people at one time in my practice, unsure of poses and where to put my feet and how to move my arms. And there are still days when I am terribly unbalanced. But while I was upset with myself for my judgmental thoughts, it was also gratifying to think about how far I have really come in my practice. It suddenly became a very humbling experience.
I was learning how to be a real yogi.