Suddenly this thought occurred to me: that where he is in his development is none of my business. It is solely between he and his God. I can expend a whole lot of time lamenting the unmet potential I see, but hiding behind the guise of me championing for his highest good is judgement. There is a time, a place and a way to hold people accountable for their greatness that is respectful and uplifting, but the way I am approaching this is neither of those things.
We could consider yoga in the same way. You're on the mat, holding Trikonasana and breathing, a gentle smile on the lips, the eyes gazing softly upwards, past your fingertips... Unless you're checking out the alignment of the people around you, mentally adjusting their posture. It's become like a tic. You can't help but want to see everyone perfectly aligned in the full expression of the pose. You know what's possible now and are practically demanding that everyone meet your ideal vision. Ahem. How unyogic is that?
As we watch and judge others, it it likely that in that very moment someone is doing the same to us. When I fall out of a pose, because I have reached a certain noticeable level of skill, I wonder how those around me are reacting. Hopefully they're so adsorbed in their experience that it goes unnoticed, but in the competitive environments in which I find myself, I'm inclined to think it's more along the lines of, "Thank goodness she's not perfect! I feel better about myself!" or something more judge-y like, "She acts so perfect. Look at her now."
Mentally critiquing the alignment of my fellow students is not making me a better yogi. It does nothing for the refinement of my own postures. That's the thing about comparison: it teaches you what others are capable of, but if you want to find out who you are, you have only to see if you're fulfilling your potential in the best way you know how. This inquiry requires us to stand before ourselves and do the hard, honest work of assessing how happy we are with what we've made of our lives. When the answer is, "Not happy at all," it's easy to avoid the harder follow up question, "What am I going to do to change?" by trying to control or being critical of someone else.
This is the real weakness- not admitting that you have made a mistake, are flawed and attempting to change, but righteously demanding perfection that you yourself cannot even attain. It speaks to a cowardly inability to be honest even with yourself about where you are and what work you have to do. It's a great expenditure of energy for an activity that does nothing to benefit you and will weaken the relationship with the recipient of your harsh assessment.
There are times to offer adjustments to others... When someone is doing something that will likely result in injury. When someone needs that push to go a bit farther or deeper. We offer this encouragement with respect to the fact that their practice belongs to them alone. It's ultimately not any of our business how deep or strong it is. It is called yoga practice, not yoga perfect. Let's let each other off the hook a bit. Perfection is a myth, anyway, and it's way more fun to celebrate the bold attempts rather than criticize the failures.
This is your life, this is your practice. Make it whatever it needs to be to fulfill your destiny. At the end of the day, the choices you make are between you, your God and no one else.