I often hear “Comparison is the thief of joy”, a quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, used in yoga classes. I heard it Monday night, wisely shared in a paraphrased manner, by a teacher who led a practice for a considerably large group of people of varying degrees of yoga experience. She made it a point to advise the practitioners to focus on their own process and not look around the room.

We all do it. Making judgments and comparisons is a natural part of being human. One may argue that it is a necessary part of human life. I did, in researching this quote and topic, come across one such argument that deliberate comparison can actually spark an increase in gratitude levels. It has to do with connecting with our own humanity and others as well – but that is another post altogether.

I don’t read tabloid news, celebrity news or any of that kind of “entertainment” news anymore. I never did do that really – but if we start there, I think you’ll agree that there’s plenty of comparison fodder there to properly set you up for a rotten mood and steal your joy. 

I’ll be honest, I have had moments of feeling like comparing myself to others during yoga. The number of yoga accounts I follow now has varied over the years because many times, I’d be left with a yucky feeling about my own practice upon seeing someone else’s. Social media toxicity aside, one of the best things you can do when you enter a yoga class is lifted right from a school admonition during a test – “keep your eyes on your own paper!”

However, practicing with inward focus and keeping your gaze steady at your own mat, your own image (if there are mirrors), documenting your practice progress (if you take photos) and tapping into your own breath will help diminish any urge toward competitiveness. Looking back at your own progression is valuable, helps impart a feeling of gratitude for your commitment to the practice and your forward motion.

So yes, 100 times yes, this quote is extremely appropriate to fit into a yoga mindset. But it applies elsewhere too. Where do you see a comparison-centered mindset creeping in to your life? Into your work? Into your relationships? Your parenting?

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!