fear/comfort zones/magic

Admit it – there’s a certain type of joy that comes from seeing another person be just a little bit scared. Not in a mean-spirited way, of course, we’re just talking about short-lived, ultimately harmless fear here. The joy comes from watching someone experience that moment of fear, and move through it.

Before you think I’m a warped individual that enjoys other people’s discomfort, let me explain.

In my Wednesday night yoga, the teacher, April, will often save a “ta-da” pose for towards the end of class. It might be a pose no one in the class will be able to do, or maybe just a few can get there, but it’s a push-yourself pose, just for fun. I really enjoy this part of class, both because I get to show off a little (oops, ego), but also because I get to see everyone else in my class challenge themselves and improve week to week. Sometimes I’ll practice on my own for a few minutes, then just kinda sit back and see how everyone else is doing. I especially like the nights when our big finale is to move through three-legged dog, to flip dog, and then eventually coming into wheel pose. There’s a point in that transition where you’re kind of upside down, and have to lift one hand off the mat in order to readjust – and that’s where the fear comes in.

Logically, there’s absolutely no reason to get scared. Your head is what, three inches from the floor? Your legs and your other arm are there to keep you lifted, and even if you do collapse onto the mat, you’re not gonna get hurt. But still, our brains protest and it can be a scary, unnatural movement. You could be fully physically capable of completing that transition, but the fear is what’s holding you back. I see it in class all the time. The joy, and the magic, happens when you push yourself outside your comfort zone and through that fear. Seeing my fellow yogis challenge themselves, and come out feeling accomplished and stronger and braver, always gives me a warm, happy, “lookatchu!” feeling.

And here I go again with the corny inspirational quotes. I don’t care if I’m lame – I feel like so many of these cliche phrases are true, on and off the yoga mat. The magic happens outside your comfort zone. Those moments of fear almost always lead to something great. You’ve just got to step out of your safe zone, and challenge it.

My most rewarding experiences in life have been the ones that scared the poopy out of me at the time. Traveling to Asia by myself. Quitting my first “grown up” job. Agreeing to commit to recovery. These were some of the most terrifying decisions, but my life has been infinitely improved because of them.

Every single week before I teach my yoga class, I am just about nauseous with nerves. I’ve been teaching almost six months now, and it’s just as scary as the first night. And yet I absolutely love it! I leave feeling great, accomplished and full of gratefulness for my practice and for being able to share it with my students. The anxiety and nervousness are always, always worth it.

Next time you feel yourself being held back by fear, fight back a little. You might surprise yourself; you’re capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for! Push past the boundaries of your comfort zone, and you’ll be amazed at the great things that can happen.

mai pen rai, you got dis ❤

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