Posted on January, 25th 2013 by Marie
Here is my morning reality: It is 6 AM, I am fifty years old I bend my body in all sorts of very unnatural positions while listening to a militant voice that insists that I need to “breathe normally”, while the sweat drips into my eyes, my knees shake and the supposed “firm grip” I am attempting slips miserably.
Not really anybody’s idea of fun – yet I go back thereto the hot as hell yoga studio at least a couple of times per week – and find a strange masochistic release in the steamy, sauna-like yoga studio that is heated to 105 degrees… and some days feels a whole lot hotter!
Still – something keeps me coming back – like the glutton for punishment that I am… And today it occurred to me that it is more than a physical sense of accomplishment. There are quite a few life coaching principles lived in the 90 minutes I spend in the devil’s steam bath.
Said with a demanding, and highly energetic voice the instructor says stuff like:
“Get OUT of your COMFORT zone…. that is where the magic happens!”
As you stand there with your knees shaking and attempt to make them contact your forehead, it is clear that certain buttons might get pushed…. Once in a while I have contemplated what it would be like to yell at the flat-bellied instructor:
“Well, YOU try and do it… instead of just yelling at us about it… I’d love to see you try! I’d be happy to stand slightly elevated on that podium and tell you to get the heck out of YOUR comfort zone… MISTER!”
However – so far I have resisted the temptation to yell such – or worse! And the other day it dawned on me that it is indeed true… it is when we get out of our comfort zone that the magic truly happens for us. It may be very comfortable to sit in front of the tube and watch our favorite TV shows, but it is rarely here that the peak moments in life crystalize for us…. It is rather when we have pushed our own boundaries slightly further than we were comfortable with that we find the joy and the sense of accomplishment.
In yoga we stretch our physical limits slightly – and as the foot for the first time actually DID show up (slightly) over my head in today’s class – getting out of my comfort zone actually made me feel a little tweep of satisfaction… When I started, I could not even balance on my foot… and now, for ever so brief a moment, I actually saw my foot in the mirror… YES!
Likewise, when I have overcome my reservations about doing this or that outside the yoga studio…. When I actually overcome my inner fear – I feel better. My mother used to say to me:
“If you overcome yourself, you overcome more than a whole army”
It’s true… we are masters at holding ourselves back. We are risk adverse and comfort seeking. We love to take the easy way out. If there is something that demands a bit of discomfort – we turn away. And in this refusal to get out our comfort zone, we get stuck in the status quo; we don’t grow and thus we don’t experience the joy of being fully alive.
In coaching we have a mantra: “You either grow or you die.”
So it is good to feel growing pains although it is by definition uncomfortable to stretch beyond our limits….. It ultimately keeps us feeling vibrant and accomplished and always opens up new possibilities. It can start small – like stretching a bit further than we feel like in a yoga class – but who knows where ultimately it can lead? What might stretching look like at our job? In our parenting? In our interaction with friends?
What can you do today to stretch just a bit further?