Off the Mat Yoga

Changing Uncomfortably: Yoga Off the Mat

Over the past couple days, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to grow. How do you know when you’ve outgrown a specific part of your life and its time to move on? What does “moving on” mean? It started when I was talking to a couple friends of mine, other graduate students in their early twenties, and someone asked: do you think you’ll stay in one city? My instinctual reaction was yes. Once I found a job, it would only be natural to settle someplace and really get to “adulting” (though I don’t think anyone really knows what that means). I’ve given that question some thought and how it relates to yoga. I think my answer has changed.

When we’re in a yoga class and a pose becomes too easy, it’s time to deepen the expression of the pose. If your brain has time to do jumping jacks surrounding your grocery list and the meaning of life, push deeper. Maybe you rock up into that forearm stand or you jump into crow pose for the first time. How you become a stronger yoga practitioner is by allowing your body to move at its own pace and discover different ways to become stronger. It’s different for every student, but at its heart – the concept is that growth comes from seeking out difficulty and change. We find strength in ourselves by pushing from places where we are constantly slightly uncomfortable.

Each slightly tremulous step out of my comfort zone is a confident step towards becoming a person who is more willing to try exciting new things.

In taking my yoga practice off the mat, I’ve been considering that idea. If we grow through change, then things should never get “too comfortable.” Being a yoga student for me means that I’m constantly seeking out ways that I can push myself. Whether I’m on or off the mat, I want to try new things and make it so that I’m exposed to new ideas. Sometimes it has to do with yoga, and I do want to physically try and move into a balancing posture that I’ve never tried. This… this often results in fear. The headstand is the best example of this. I’m always terrified of going upside down because it’s frightening. It’s uncomfortable in the way that it’s something new and I’m not sure whether it will have a positive or negative outcome. Each time I manage it, regardless, I feel myself become a bit more confident in my abilities. It’s surprising, and yet somehow – I feel a stronger and more connected yoga student when I take the risk and leave my comfort zone.

In what way is that different from deciding what we want to do with our lives? I see no difference. In my early twenties, I want to experiment and explore past my limits. The downside of that is fear. Moving to a new country, picking up a new job or hobby is always going to be a risk because you could (and often will) fail. How can you justify it? The more and more I think about it, however, the more I can understand that by putting myself in these positions, I’m giving myself space to grow. Each slightly tremulous step out of my comfort zone is a confident step towards becoming a person who is more willing to try exciting new things.

What does it mean to grow? I think growing simply means changing. It means that we’re becoming a deeper expression of ourselves, one that is perhaps more confident, more ready to go out and meet new people or moving halfway across the world on a gamble. I’m not sure if I want to stay in one city anymore. This whole meditation on change has given me some food for thought, and without a doubt: I want to grow, and if that means I’m going to sacrifice being comfortable: then I’m ready.

How about you, yogis? What does growth mean or look like in your life? Share with us!

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1 Comment

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    Christine Frost

    May 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Great post! Yoga taught me patience. With that, I learned to take a step back and take a more strategic view of whatever I was working on at the time. It’s given me the chance to grow across work, as well as how I approach writing (my side job!). I don’t beat myself up as much over things, and I feel like the mindfulness I learned through yoga has been an essential part of that.

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