Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moving Toward Discomfort

At my favourite Yin Yoga class tonight at Tahoe Yoga, Walter (the owner of the studio, a chiropractor, and teacher extraordinaire), talked about noticing our reaction to the discomfort we feel when holding yoga poses for the long periods of time that are signature Yin (anywhere from 3-5 minutes, during which time pigeon pose takes on a whole new complexion). More than noticing, is exploring that reaction while we're in the pose. Do I want to run away? Do I fidget? Do I tune out--as in my case, where I'll realize my pose got sloppy and I was thinking about what to wear next month when I'm in Denver for a book event? And most importantly, what information does this give me about how I react to discomfort in the rest of my life?

Dis-comfort, to be not comfortable, un-comforted--sounds like something to avoid. Yes. Well, actually no. We can't. So better to meet it, than dodge it. Because dodging it is really just an exercise in exacerbation, not a solution.

Long ago I took a self-defence class, not much stuck with me, except this--if someone tries to snatch your bag, hang on tight, but don't try to resist the snatcher, instead, move in the same direction. Not a natural reaction, but efficacious in many instances. In most cases, the culprit will be so flummoxed by your surprising reaction that they will loosen their grip on your bag. Presto, the bag is in your control again.

Discomfort is a purse snatcher. Lean into it and you might just be surprised to feel that discomfort loosen its grip.

Still dubious. Think about your workouts. Not so comfortable all the time, right? (And I'm talking here about the discomfort of challenge, not of injury) But then, one day, all that discomfort comes together into a day of sublime ease and you wonder if your shoes, or bike, or boat or swimsuit have a hidden motor you weren't aware of. What felt hard yesterday, feels great today.

Moving toward discomfort is moving away, in sports as it is in life.