Photo: Perfecto Insecto
Falling out of your comfort zone, even if it knocks the wind out of you…
My favorite thing about yoga is the way in which it empowers people. Before beginning yoga, many people can never see themselves on a yoga mat. They say, “Oh, yoga is not for me, I can’t even touch my toes.” That’s how I was, but in a different way. I had no respect for the practice—I was a Pilates fanatic, condemning yoga for being, “Not as hard as Pilates… you don’t get as much out of it.” Someone should have hit me upside the head with a Manduka mat and asked me whether I had even tried yoga! At the time, I hadn’t.
So, when I finally tried it, and loved it, I couldn’t help but wonder, what else haven’t I tried that I might love? What else haven’t I tried because I’ve been avoiding it? My yoga practice has empowered me to try new things, both in life and on my mat. It has empowered me to exit my safety zone by trying new postures, and by simply moving forward in life. As a yoga teacher, it’s fulfilling to help students do the same thing. The hard part, however, is that no one can make you exit your safety zone, you have to do it on your own.
A few months ago I had an incredible fear about leaving a relationship I had been in for years. I knew nothing else in terms of romantic relationships, and although I can’t quite pin-point what my fear was exactly, I have a feeling it had something to do with the idea of not finding romance again. Something (probably my yoga practice) was screaming at me about how stupid this was. The relationship wasn’t right. I knew it deep down, but I couldn’t empower myself to leave what was comfortable. It took three months, countless tears and several agitated friends who wanted me to get it over with already before I finally felt empowered enough to walk away with what respect and love I still had for both myself, and for my counterpart in the relationship.
The next thing I knew I was drowning! What’s more uncomfortable than leaving a comfort zone? Not going back to it at the slightest indication of discomfort. I found someone else, rather quickly.
This heartbreak was even worse than the first. I had been given a glimpse into what a healthy, wholesome relationship could feel like. But it didn’t last.
Quick! My heart told me—fill the void, fill the void!
And I did! Yet again, I met someone. By this point I was noticing a pattern with every romantic specimen I met: I created enormous expectations for how they would top the previous one. Surely, this one would last.
But it didn’t. Sigh.
Quick! Fill the void!
And so, I joined Match.com. That’s right, I wanted my next fix—I needed to know that something else existed which could fill the ever-present void in my life. Several dates, a few free beers, a tattoo and a motorcycle ride later I knew what I wanted: A man with a motorcycle.
Surely there is something symbolic in finding a man on a motorcycle after several failed attempts at romance? Talk about empowerment. Around this same time I was finally starting to take my feet away from the wall when working on handstands in my yoga practice. I was even maintaining my balance in the air for several moments. When I first found my yoga mat four years ago, I never thought I would be practicing regularly, let alone balancing on my hands, let alone doing it for a man on a motorcycle that I had met on Match.com. But there I was—out of my comfort zone, in a territory totally foreign to me. And I was balancing.
It turns out however, that just because I wanted a man with a motorcycle, doesn’t mean I wanted the man on the motorcycle. Yoga practice to the rescue, I prayed with passion: help empower me to know when something is serving me and when it is not, help empower me to walk away. Empower me to take the next step with a handstand in the middle of the room, even if it means falling on my back and getting the wind knocked out of me the first few times. Empower me to do something I didn’t think I could ever do—which leads me to the question: what else is uncomfortable and foreign to me that I haven’t tried, but I might love, and may actually be able to do someday with comfort?
My dating experience lately has become a frequently visited discussion with my closest friends. One of them, Bob, sent me a link to something as I sit here and write this. It’s from PostSecret.com, and it reads: Even though I haven’t found you yet, I take comfort in knowing that you haven’t found me either. Be patient.
Bob’s thoughtful and spontaneous message was the boost I needed to stop looking to fill the romantic void in my life, and instead empower myself to stay some place different—some place single. Some place that I never thought I would be, but will find comfort in being. Just like someday I’ll find comfort in a handstand without a wall in front of me.
Who needs a man on a motorcycle anyways? I want my own motorcycle. And I want to be the one in front.