I’ve been on this kick lately about expanding your bubble. Some of us hate change – resist it before it comes, avoid conversations that might initiate it, never throw things away… there are lots of ways that we choose to do the same thing we’ve been doing. And, frankly, who doesn’t love the comfort of going to your favorite pub and ordering that amazing pulled pork sandwich with homemade pickles?? (Ifyou’re ever in Brooklyn, go here, get the pork sandwhich. You will. Not. Reget it. Taking nominations for great naturally-raised pulled pork Minneapolis-style.)
Change is hard… or is it?
Here’s the thing about change: when we anticipate it, we often tense up, nervously await its arrival, overthink and fret about it. And amazingly, when the change comes, sure enough we feel the pain of transition. No wonder the thought of doing something new causes so much stress.
So trying a new yoga pose, or trying yoga at ALL, can, ironically, cause all kinds of stress and worry, especially in a culture where “yoga” has increasingly come to be misunderstood as “already fit” (a load of shit), and “already flexible.” (a bigger load of shit.)
So really, the challenge lies in getting over this anxiety so that you can not only GET to yoga, but get enjoyment out of it. Because when we enjoy something, we tend to do more of it (ah logic). Healthy habit made.
ENTER YOGA MIND TRICKS. (MWA HA HA HA HA HA…)
Relate it to something or some process you already enjoy. You will have to do your own critical thinking about what it is that you enjoy in your life that could relate to yoga, but here are some generalities that everyone can apply (and remember, this is your IDEAL way of approaching something, so throw practicality out the window here):
What kind of pace do you enjoy in life? Maybe you like to bake/cook for hours on end or sit in a park with nothing to do but people watch. Maybe all that sounds like a waste of time, and you’re a thrill junkie, seeking a good adrenaline rush over agility and peace. Whatever pace on the spectrum of “speed” that you enjoy in your ideal state, I suggest mirroring that with the pace of your yoga practice. When your instructor says “take an extra breath or even childs pose if you need to,” they’re not saying it for giggles, you really CAN slow down if you want to. Even though its totally awkward if you stand up in the middle of a boring dinner party and stretch and yawn while everyone else is still on soup and small talk, it is absolutely part of the culture of yoga to go at your own pace, even if it means you’re doing something different from the rest of the group, faster or slower.
Are you a whole-to-part or part-to-whole thinker? Do you like to come up with a general plan, and then hand the small steps over to someone else? Do you get lost for hours in the process of painting a room with absolutely perfect edges? Ask yourself which way you lean on the “see how it all relates vs. learn one thing at a time” scale, and again, mirror that with your yoga. Yoga is ultimately a complex practice that unifies all the muscles, tissues, and bones in your body, in addition to plugging into your emotions, intuition, and any spiritual sense if you have one, but its ok to allow yourself to just focus on one thing at a time: this month, arms. Maybe next month, knees. Or perhaps you will enjoy it more if you let go of any specifics and just go for “relaxing” or “build up a sweat.” Creating a simple goal like this in a way that you enjoy is not only a good idea, it’s the best way to learn.
Even folks who’ve been practicing their entire lives will tell you that the challenge of yoga will always be to somehow get all the pieces to work together the way you want simultaneously. But the true practice is just about showing up.
Once you’ve found something about it that you enjoy, you can then COMFORTABLY work towards pinky-toe-ing your way into uncharted territory, and make that bubble just a little bigger.