Here’s the thing about yoga. Much as we try and embrace the grace and serenity inherent in the asana practice, and we want to envision ourselves moving effortlessly between each extended pose, some days, well, some days it’s just not like that. Some days it’s a struggle. And it’s difficult. And it’s uncomfortable. We can end up wrestling with our practice, when what we really want is ease in both mind and body.
One of the things I often say in class when I can see struggle on my beautiful students' faces as they work into a challenging asana is to try and relax and be comfortable with the temporary discomfort. Allow it. Welcome it. Embrace it.
Get Comfortable With 'Uncomfortable'
It’s one of the wonderful paradoxes in yoga – the more we struggle against the discomfort of an asana, the harder it becomes! By actively relaxing the mind, the breath and the body and accepting the few seconds of discomfort, leaning into it, that is where we find the magic. And that zone of discomfort is where we can stretch, grow and go further.
So often I find these yoga class principles mirrored in life. When we allow ourselves to accept a moment of pause within discomfort, when life throws us a curly one, we can give ourselves the opportunity to stretch and grow as people in a way we didn’t anticipate.
We are so used to making an instant decision to make ourselves feel better in order to avoid experiencing discomfort… to turn on the TV the second we get in from work to avoid feeling lonely, to eat because we are feeling bored even though we're not hungry, to grab a drink when we have had a stressful day it work.
I am not saying you shouldn't do all these things…a glass of Pinot in front of some really good bad TV after a hard day can be a huge pleasure. I am just highlighting the opportunity that our mental yoga gives us to PAUSE before we grab the remote or the corkscrew and to be comfortable in that discomfort momentarily, to feel it, and to feel what we really feel.
Don't Be Afraid To Hit "Pause"
Getting Comfortable With Uncomfortable on a temporary basis gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves what do we really need to satisfy us in that moment? It may be that by pausing and choosing to stay momentarily in that initial discomfort, we find we are craving connection and that calling Mum will, in fact, satisfy much more than the TV. Or that our body is not actually physically hungry but would actually feel better having a walk to release some tension before we sit down and enjoy that piece of chocolate. That, given moment's reflection we need to take action and schedule a conversation with our boss about workload, rather than drowning that overwhelmed, burnt out feeling in wine!
It’s not necessarily easy! I struggle as much as the next person with reaching for instant comfort after a difficult day or bad news, but I am trying hard to get increasingly comfortable in the pause of discomfort so I can assess what I really feel and try to meet that need. It's a real life changer, and it saves on chocolate/wine and endless Facebook escapism time. I end up with more of what I want in my life for sure.
Next time you feel an urge to make an instant decision to escape discomfort, ask yourself two questions: 1) What am I really trying to avoid feeling here? And 2) what do I really want to feel?
Getting real with what you really feel and embracing a little discomfort, is a magical way to take your yoga off the mat and become more mentally and emotionally flexible. Turn off the TV, embrace the silence, and you will settle in comfortably in your discomfort zone.