Yoga isn’t about making things fit us so we feel better. In fact, that actually creates a roller coaster. Regarding my classes, I have heard “I don’t like it too hot, I don’t like to sweat, it’s too hard or challenging, too many people-too crowded, too noisy, too quiet, I have to have my mat here, or face this direction.” Yoga should be less about “I have to have, I have to be or I like it like this.” Our practice is about getting familiar with ourselves, our minds, and our habits, including the ways we habitually create our own discontent.
When the environment, the flow or pose creates “chaos” on your mat, it teaches you how you handle chaos both on your mat and off your mat. Ask yourself when you are uncomfortable, when things aren’t just so, “Am I reactive? Do I judge, label, quit or flee? Does my mind take me out? Is there negative self-talk? Do I focus, breathe, tap into my power and stay? Do I resist or persist?” The inner work is done not by designing your perfect space or limiting it to only the poses you know and like. The true work happens when chaos happens and you build the awareness around how you handle it, your thoughts, your judgments, your labels, and perhaps realizing that you are creating your own discontent.
Instead of seeking comfort on your mat, try giving up your attachment to things having to be your way in order to feel comfortable, and create some comfort in discomfort. That is where growth lies. Because what we practice, we get good at, try cultivating strength and persistence, courage, patience and peace on your mat, and then all of those things you practice follow you off your mat into your daily life. Since how we handle chaos on our mat often reflects how we handle it in our lives, we can start practicing with awareness, setting an intention, cultivating our intention and committing to growth, breathing and moving on.
As we begin to expand our comfort zone and become less discontent, we increase our vitality, gain self-confidence and inner strength. And it might surprise you, but we also discover more joy!
I encourage you to return to your yoga practice, or perhaps just return with a fresh perspective, as a dedicated practitioner, letting go of your attachments to your definition of comfort, your judgments of like and dislike, can’ts and don’ts. Through practice and dedication to both your yoga practice and yoga lifestyle, you are continually growing- physically, mentally and spiritually. As my teacher Baron Baptiste says, “Realign. Recommit. Again. And again. And again.”