When was the last time you got a little uncomfortable?
No, I don't mean gulped down so much lasagna your belly was distended.
Lately I've been playing with this idea of being uncomfortable because I think doing it - either intentionally or accidentally - is healthy. I think we do ourselves an incredible disservice when we don't make ourselves nervous, awkward and clammy-handed on a regular basis.
Yoga helps teach us to be comfortable being uncomfortable. If you've ever spent any time in a revolved triangle or a full splits pose, you know what I'm talking about. Sometimes it takes all your will simply to breathe and stay put, and resist immediately folding into child's pose. And other times, you go to a place in your mind where time stops and you drop into a meditative state - a welcome place to be.
The yogis have a word for the repetitive thought patterns we all have - samskara. When we think a certain thought or do something in a particular way, we "groove" that samskara deeper into our brain. It makes swerving away from that groove even more challenging. But we always can exert the effort to groove some new patterns, such as embracing being uncomfortable.
I had a moment recently that pressed my yogic edges.
To bust open my routine, I went to a class at a different studio. The teacher had us practice handstands at the wall and came over unexpectedly to help me press up into one without kicking my legs against the wall. This is supremely challenging, just so you know, and I can't do it on my own.
Doing this made me uncomfortable. The class was watching and my inner gremlin insisted there was no way I'd get up, even with the instructor's help.
But I did, and it made me feel super strong and awesome, if you must know.
That could be you, too.
Let's face it - it's much easier to stay comfortable. Routines feel good. Doing something new can trigger those junior high school feelings where you think everybody's looking and laughing at you. We often feel like we're supposed to do something perfectly the first time. Yoga is a prime example. Learning doesn't happen overnight; it can take a lifetime. But the process can be so nourishing.
Sally forth and do something you've never done. Maybe that means taking a yoga class for the first time or trying a different style of yoga or studio. If not yoga, there is probably at least one, if not many, items hovering on the periphery of your life that intrigue you.
Here are a couple I'd like to try: a drawing class, reading something at an open mic or sliding on some tap shoes and shuffle ball changing around a studio.
Postscript: In a nice pinch of synchronicity, a few hours after I finished this and sent it off to my editor, I opened a piece of stray mail. Lo and behold, it was a press release about a tap dance workshop for adults. It runs - wait for it - the same day this column runs. Maybe I should go put my money where my mouth is.
Tap Dance Workshop for adults - hosted by The Colorado Academy of Music and Dance, 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, 975 Garden of the Gods Road, Suite F, $25, includes tap shoes, for ages 16 and older; 635-1004, springsdance.com.