i won at yoga
posted: December 5, 2013
Yoga makes it easier to win
Remember when sports were just about fun? When everyone had a great time and no one kept score? Growing up, I couldn’t think of anything less exciting.
Competition has become so ingrained in the way that guys see ourselves that we can barely get through a meal together without finding some way to declare a champion and a loser. It’s so instilled in us as we grow up that even after decades of voluntarily destroying our bodies competing against each other, after that final whistle goes and our competitive careers are through we’re barely out of the ice baths before we start looking for a league that starts with the words ‘Duffer’s’ or ‘Beer.’
We crave both the camaraderie and the temporary hatred for our opponents so much that we will lace up skates at 11:15pm on a weeknight only to wake up a few hours later, bruised and sore, for our day jobs.
Then one day I got talked into something called ‘Broga’ to support some friends of mine. The yoga instructor that day was Alex Mazzerole and she introduced us—12 ex-athletes—to a concept that none of us had ever considered: a practice for no purpose but the sake of itself.
We all chuckled knowingly. Of course there had to be a winner, or at least a group of us who were better than the rest.
Truth be told, it took nearly a dozen classes before I fully understood what Alex was talking about that day. The fact that there was a place that I could go to where I could simply practice—whatever that meant for me that day—was revolutionary for my performance-induced brain.
Sitting in the rink dressing room the day after my first yoga class, looking around at the guys lacing up their skates in order to hurl their bodies around the ice in an effort to conjure the euphoric adrenaline rush that only real competition can, I was happier than ever to be getting out there. Not because yoga had changed competition for me, but because I could now look at it from a different place, realize just how ridiculous and self-destructive it all is, and that I absolutely love every minute of it.
Conner is a lifelong athlete who has traded in competitive sports for entrepreneurship and transitioned into the fast-paced world of beer-league hockey. At the same time, he’s discovered yoga as a way to keep his mind and body limber enough for late-night pickup games and early morning meetings. Follow him on Twitter.