“Make yourself uncomfortable,” Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless, said at a Creative Mornings talk in Chicago. While the young entrepreneur was using the phrase in the context of starting his business, the statue could apply to all aspects of life including yoga.
After you’ve acquired a consistent practice, you’ll probably notice that you’ve established the poses you like and dislike, grown accustomed to your teacher’s sequencing and no longer have the fish-out-of-water feeling in class. While it’s great to feel confident when entering into your studio, moving through the same motions can become monotonous. Not only could this lead to disinterest but also stunt personal growth within your practice.
Our bodies and minds are meant to adapt and if we don’t change a few small things every so often, we’ll loose our edge. Whenever I was going through yoga teacher training, we were encouraged to try out a variety of different studios, teachers and styles of classes. The intention behind it was not only to expose us to the greater community but also to remind us how it feels to enter a studio for the first time. As a teacher, it’s beneficial to be familiar with the countless forms of practice. As a student, it’s easy to fall into patterns and forget what it’s like to be a novice.
So as Jake mentioned, it’s important to make yourself feel a little uncomfortable sometimes and to embrace that feeling. During the talk, he admitted that he didn’t know how to do a lot of crucial elements when first beginning his business. He simply figured it out along the way and made the comment that it’s fun to get into situations you personally have to crawl your way out of. While you’re hopefully not crawling out of a studio once class is over (or even halfway through, for that matter), don’t be afraid of following a different teacher’s instructions for once. Maybe you can’t predict the next standing pose in the sequence. Maybe you’ve never even heard of the pose their instructing (she said to put my foot where?). So what?
Odds are, the more you visit different classes and the more you’re willing to try new variations, the greater growth you’ll see in your practice. Simply noticing your tendencies is a leap in the right direction, even if you aren’t ready to try the fullest expression of a pose or arm balances aren’t your forte. As long as you’re experimenting and playing with your edge, something is going to change. Personally, I struggled with handstands when I first began my practice. It may have partially been due to a lack of physical strength but the biggest aspect was the fear of being upside down. I hadn’t turned up into a handstand since I was eight but would spend an extra few minutes after class everyday to just attempt kicking up against a wall. Less than two months later, I feel just as comfortable upside down as I do right side up (well, that could be somewhat of an exaggeration but I do love inversions).
Life is full of unintended consequences, as Mr. Nickell said later in his speech. You never know what will result from the decisions you make, so why not just go for it? As we always say, you’ll never know until you try it and in my opinion, it’s worse to regret not taking an opportunity. Learning comes from taking the risk and making the mistake, not standing on the sidelines watching and going through the same routine. You owe it to yourself to pursue a new challenge everyday, so go for it.
You can view the full talk on Creative Mornings here: Jake Nickell, Chicago – Creative Mornings