Dear Annie: For the past four years, I have taken a yoga class at our local senior center. I am there to work on my physical self, as well as to learn a new way of exercising, and I have enjoyed yoga a great deal. However, I have found that there is a level of competitiveness among a few women in this class that really takes away from what I believe is the spirit of yoga and self-improvement in general.
There is one particular woman who is vocal to those who can do things she isn’t so skilled at, such as balancing during certain poses. Recently, she pointed out that one of our classmates was able to touch the floor with her head during a pose. Worse, the instructor is also competing with us and a while back asked me whether I was “showing off” because I had lifted my foot so high. These are women in their 70s still competing and envious and mocking others!
I see this in other walks of life, too – for example, women who brag about how many people they have at their family holiday events or how many hours they worked in their yards or how early they got their Christmas decorations up or down.
I was really hoping that by the time we got to these golden years – done with work, focused on self-enrichment and living our best lives – this competitiveness would have stopped. I am calling it out to you because I wonder whether others have experienced this among their female friends. Why does it still feel like middle school in these situations? Can’t we all just commit to compliments instead of competition as we live out our last years? – Troubled by One-upmanship
Dear Troubled: Real queens fix each other’s crown. Yoga is about acceptance of others and not feeling judged. The “best” yoga practitioner has the best intention in her heart. It is not necessarily the person who can touch her toes. There are plenty of people who are physically very flexible but not flexible in their thinking.
Though you can’t really change what these women do, you can change how you view their silliness. This is true in yoga and in life. The more you compliment others the more you will attract like-minded people. There are women who feel the way you do; you just have to find them. The best way to do that is to become one yourself. Be the person you would want to be friends with to others. You will attract the queens of the world, and you can lift one another up.
As for this yoga class in particular, you might drop it and find a new one. It could be that this instructor is setting the tone for the entire class.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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