April 10, 2015

How to Actually Leave our Comfort Zones in Yoga.

Yoga class

What is it about your favorite yoga studio and favorite yoga teacher that keep you coming back?

I think for most of us it’s about finding a connection and knowing what to expect each time we step into the room. We have our favorite spot in the studio, our favorite props and familiar faces around us. There’s a sense of comfort that comes when the teacher greets the class and begins to move us through the breathing and the asana the way we like. He or she never disappoints with the perfect sequence and the perfect message that can lead us to that blissed-out state that we came for.

Sound about right? Now imagine all of that as an obstacle.

I know. It probably feels disturbing to read, and it’s even uncomfortable to write. How could something so good also be something that holds us back?

Hear me out.

Going-with-what-we-know can be grounding and soothing. Our brain is hard-wired to seek routine. It craves repetition. And sometimes we need it. But if we do the same thing, with the same person, at the same place all the time, what are we really learning about ourselves?

I have my favorite studios and teachers, don’t get me wrong. I clear my schedule to make time for those who rise to the top of my list. But I recently stepped out of that space, went to a new city and intentionally explored different yoga styles and teachers. As a yoga teacher myself, I expected to learn new poses, transitions and sequences to bring back to my students, but I came away with more.

By spending time with many different approaches, I found that each studio space and each teacher gave me something that I hadn’t received before. Each experience helped me tap into a different side of my practice, whether focusing on alignment, or flow, or a sense of community, or finding introspection, or stillness. All were valuable, and all lit up a different part of my soul.

I went into each class with an open mind and heart and, by doing so, I was able to observe, feel and do things differently without fighting them. I felt expansive and whole, as if each class and each teacher nurtured a piece of my jigsaw-puzzle being. I haven’t felt that alive in certain parts of myself for a while. And it took getting out of my comfort zone and opening up to new possibility without judgment that got me there.

So, yes, continue to go to your favorite studio and practice with your favorite teacher. There is value in that. But also look for new opportunity. Try out a new studio, teacher or style. Go for something you don’t know. You might find something about yourself that you hadn’t expected. You might experience your body, your breath, your thoughts on a totally different level, expanding into pieces of yourself that you didn’t even know existed.

It’s in the unfamiliar—those spaces that are uncomfortable—that we learn the most about ourselves. In the end, that is the crux of the practice and why we return to our mat.


Author: Kristin Bundy

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr


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Kristin Bundy