Humans tend to be creatures of habit, and that certain spot three rows back and two mats in from the right wall just helps us flow better, right? Okay, I will just flat out admit it and get to the point—I am one of those yogis who prefers and goes straight toward the front of the room for class.
Old habits die hard. I was that girl that would sit in the front row (or second) during class in college. My excuse was that I had to per my college basketball coach's "request." But, I did find that I learned better and actually paid attention when I was closer to the teacher. Novel concept, right? Okay, okay maybe I was just a brown-noser and teacher's pet.
So yes, I am about to justify why I like the front row in yoga class.
I have two older athletic and tall brothers, and am the only girl. Even my extended family is all tall and athletic. Family holiday gatherings were spent splaying some type of sport and/or "beating" each up other up. Long story short, growing up I was always trying to keep up or even be better than my family. My competitive nature definitely started at a very young age.
So where am I going with this? I know, I know, yoga is not supposed to be competitive, but my inner ego kicks in from my first bead of sweat. Without a doubt, I like being pushed by others and challenged. It is just how I am wired. For this reason, this is why I prefer the front row because it isolates me a little bit more from the rest of the class. I don't have anyone in front of me to peek at their pose, and therefore I can actually be in my own world and focus on my practice.
Ironically though, I usually practice next to one of my yoga buddies, Carly, and I do sometimes sneak a peak over at my friend. Practicing next to Carly helps to push me farther into poses that I initially thought were crazy. She definitely helps give me strength of mind that I can deepen my practice.
So I guess the moral of my story is that practicing yoga is about finding a balance (go figure). Sometimes this balance is between my competitive nature and focusing inwardly on myself, and other times it is a balance between something completely different.
My biggest recommendation to newbie yogis is to find this balance, but also not to be afraid to try something that looks totally crazy (but, if it hurts don't do it). Don't be afraid to take that peek at your neighbor and be inspired to to push through to hold your first headstand. I promise the rush that it brings and the doors that it opens in your brain is totally worth it.
Oh, and ok, maybe I really am still a teacher's pet, but you did not hear that from me.