For me, a casual jog in the park usually turns into a sprint set to the Chariots of Fire theme song. It’s not because I’m a hardcore runner, or have trouble pacing myself, but because I’m hypercompetitive. If someone passes me—particularly if she is younger or has a better butt than I do—I will speed up and pass her just to prove that I can. (And then I stop a few blocks later to recover from a fit of wheezing.) I’ve also been known to fling Scrabble boards if someone steals my triple word score spot. I’m not proud of this behavior, but the first step is recognizing you have a problem, right?
Which brings me to my workout nemesis: yoga. I desperately need to do yoga, because I have the flexibility of an 80-year-old man. I can’t touch my toes. I can barely sit cross-legged. And doing the splits seems downright unattainable. Every year or so, I find a studio and start attending classes with some measure of regularity. But then it becomes so frustrating that I quit, thus continuing my cycle of stiffness.
Yoga teachers generally preach tolerance of yourself and your limitations. They say things like, “If this pose isn’t available to you, do this instead.” (The word “can’t” is anathema in yoga.) But when I get on the mat and everyone is contorted into some pretzel-like position with their legs behind their heads, I am stressed out because I CAN’T DO IT. There have been studies showing that yoga decreases stress and anxiety, but I beg to differ. During the relaxing savasana pose at the end of each class (which is really just lying still, at which I obviously excel), I’m more worked up than when I came in.
Now here’s the secret: I am not alone. “Yogis are incredibly competitive,” Kristen Dollard, the brand director at Yoga Journal, told me when we were chatting about the #stopdropandyoga phenomenon. “But they lie about it and say they’re not.” I knew it! If you’re good at something, you want to get better—and frankly yes, that does mean getting better than everyone else.
So I found a solution. I’ve started competing with myself in the comfort of my own home, via online classes. I’m already stretching circles around myself and eventually, when I’m ready, I just might take another class our in the wild. Namaste.
This article originally appeared on Yahoo Beauty.