Steve's post at on mat samskaras really struck a chord with me. Monday morning, the room was pretty full, so I placed my mat in the second row (I practice at a tiny shala, so full means 12 people), which is not my favorite spot. Later on during standing, my favorite spot just in the front corner opened up, and I had to pause and remind myself that practicing where I started was just as good. But oh how that spot was calling my name.
When I started practicing ashtanga, every time it was open, I would take that front corner spot because it offered less distractions for me, and I was often next to someone whose practice steadied mine, because, I could hear them breathe and they went at a slower pace too. When I first started practicing, in led classes as well as for ashtanga, setting up next to someone with a strong practice (=strong breath usually, and maybe strong physically) would really help me. I usually preferred to be next to guys, as you could hear their breathing more easily (why is this, anyway?) and they seem to be a little slower), which helped me to remember to breathe, and gave me the (needed) illusion that I was doing a little bit better than I really was. It takes less energy to practice next to others with a good practice, than it does to be all by myself. Their breath, focus and energy rubs off on the people around them. I can feel the difference between the energy of my practice when there are 3 people in the room vs. 10 or 12.