No Contest

By Amy Rivera

I was twenty-three and stressed.  My whole life had been a contest. Only I didn’t know it.  I just knew I was constantly tense. On edge.

I had gone to a counselor with this vague feeling of unease.  She mentioned Yoga as a possible stress reliever. I didn’t know what Yoga was. I had heard of it. But it was yet a mystery to me. She jotted the address on a sticky note.  It was the only Yoga Studio in the town where I had spent the collective majority of my childhood.

“Iyengar Yoga,” the sign read.  


What the heck is, “Iyengar?”
Oh well. I’m here.  

I walked in, hopeful.  

By the end of my first class, I knew I wanted this to be a lifelong thing.  I was immediately “good at it.” That was late summer. By Thanksgiving, I knew the names of a ton of poses in Sanskrit, the original language used to name them; much like Latin is used to name parts of the body or animal species. I knew how to set up elaborate mountains of props in every supported pose.  I was the most flexible in class. Great Yogi material, right?

Next thing I knew, the Yoga teacher was inviting me to her Yoga Holiday Party.  You bet I was going to be there.  Ignore the fact that I didn’t really know anyone else who was going to be there.  Yoga is something I was good at. Something I’d shine in, no matter the occasion.  Because, remember, everything is a contest.

Lucky me; the whole party literally was a contest! A series of Yoga games, all won my Yours, Truly – the newly self-proclaimed Yogi.  I was so in my (habitual) element.  So, of course, I got an endorphin rush.  Funny, though, how quickly those go away.  How quickly they’re replaced by a kind of vague empty feeling.  Maybe even more unease. More tension.

The truth is, even though I had won all the games at the party, I didn’t win.  Not really. I didn’t form any relationships from winning. No one said, “Oooo…I want to spend time with her; I want to learn Yoga from her!”  It probably eliminated any chances of those people wanting anything to do with me.

Of course, it’s only in looking back that I can see any of this.  Back then, I still hadn’t learned that Yoga isn’t a contest. That LIFE isn’t a contest. Every time I would attend a Yoga class, I was too busy critiquing everyone to take a good look (or even a flimsy look!) at what was going on within myself.

Fast forward to now...


A lot can happen in thirteen years.  A lot did happen. More importantly, I’ve noticed some changes on the inside.  

At some point, I realized that appearing to be the best Yogi in every class didn’t gain me a single thing.  And what’s more, it hit me that there is no such thing as

The Better Yogi

The Best Instructor

Or The Perfect…Anything.

There’s not a constant contest going on.  My ego would still like to think so.  But there really isn’t.

I used to practice in classes full of people, with my ego silently pleading to them, “Look at Me!  Love Me! Tell me I’m AMAZING!!!”

Lately, though, I’ve begun to crave a practice that happens in complete solitude.  I crave a space void of competition. A reality in which my own critical mind isn’t needed anymore.  A life in which mine is the only soul needed to be heard saying,

“I see you.  I love you. And, yes, you are amazing.”

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Post by SiS Coach, Amy Rivera

Amy is an experienced Personal Trainer and certified Yoga Instructor. She helps her clients find a balanced approach to strength training and wellness to help them get healthy and strong for good.
”The strength I continue to find within myself plays such a big part in showing my daughters they have it within themselves, showing you that it’s within you, that it’s within your daughters…that it’s within every person.”  

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