The unlikeliest of yogis, Teddy Roosevelt said, "comparison is the killer of joy." This couldn't be truer as it relates to getting back into shape postpartum or returning to exercise after a long illness or injury. There is nothing more humbling than finding yourself back at the beginning, but comparing your progress to others is just a waste of time and energy. Setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning if we stay present to them.
In yoga, there is a saying, a philosophy, a way of being that can help us transcend petty jealousies and harmful comparisons. I heard this gem of wisdom many times during my training at the Chopra Center, and it is at the heart of Deepak's best selling classic The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. It goes like this:
Where attention goes, energy flows.
In other words, we have the power to transform things in our bodies, with our practices, and in our lives by placing attention and intention on them. Of course, change may not take place over night and it may not happen exactly the way in which we imagined, but we can move in the direction of something new or more healthy simply by focusing on it. A favorite and comforting quote from the Upanishads (an ancient Vedic text) reminds us that we are already connected with that which we seek.
“You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.”
It is also important to remember that gratitude is the greatest multiplier of good so, be grateful for what you can do now and use that as a foundation to get stronger. And if all else fails, remind yourself that asana is only part of the equation, and just keep your eyes on your own mat. Everything will be fine.