Finding Your Fitness Tribe: Escape Your Comfort Zone
As we were packing for a Presidents’ Day weekend getaway to Denver, my husband told me to pack proper yoga clothes, not just pajamas. As the family event planner, he recognizes that practicing yoga in new places when we travel offers a huge potential for me to grow in my practice and as a teacher.
I recognize this potential too. Still, I resist.
To take part in something new is uncomfortable. Where will I park? Will the teacher show up? How do I pay? Where do I put my stuff? Is this the right class for me? How much chitchat will I have to make with strangers?
As a military spouse I should be used to change around every corner. But, sometimes all the change is just too much. My yoga practice is a solid, consistent place for me so I tend to keep it in my comfort zone, which is usually in my home or hotel room.
The idea of magic happening outside of one’s comfort zone is repeated so often, I can’t even find the original source for the idea. It is repeated so much that the picture of the floating circles automatically comes to mind when I feel like I’m being asked to step outside of my comfort zone.
On this trip, my husband found a Rusty Wells workshop to attend at the close of the Denver Chant Fest. After a dinner date in the city on Saturday night, we decided to check out the free vendor section of the Chant Fest. I still hadn’t committed to attending the Sunday afternoon workshop, but wanted to have a look around just in case I did attend.
As soon as I entered the Sherman Event Center I was thrown way out of my comfort zone. Toothless security guards lounged by the welcome table. Incoherent individuals at the welcome table barely answered questions about the event. And, inside the vendor section, a mass of strangely attired yogis (think gold, sequined hot pants!) milled about tables filled with harmoniums and mala strands. The rooms were dimly lit and the carpeting was of questionable cleanliness. I felt like I had left 2014 outside and traveled back in time to Woodstock. I did not feel like this was my tribe.
As we left, I did not commit to attending the workshop. Fearful of practicing with folks so different from me, I messaged an alternative-looking friend of mine stationed at Colorado Springs. I expressed how I wished she didn’t have a broken leg because I needed arm candy and moral support for the workshop.
I reminded myself that magic happens outside of my comfort zone. The stuff that I’m comfortable with happens every single day, offering absolutely no wow factor.
It was time for some wow – some magic. I bought my ticket.
It turns out that magic did happen at my first ever live festival event. It was like going to a concert for the first time after always listening to music at home. There was a DJ and live chanting with drums. We practiced in a ballroom with arches, colorful paint all around, hardwood floors supporting our poses, and beautiful light streaming in from outside. It was here that I fit right in, with a room full of other people who were willing to travel far and wide for a great workshop. I found my deepest backbends ever. I fell in love with the teacher’s voice as he sang to us in Savasana. People were crying at the end. And most importantly, I took away the message to create community in my yoga classes.
People often surround us, yet still we are lonely. There is time in yoga to go both inward and extend outward. My discomfort with trying new things and being a minority in a crowd taught me that my yoga practice starts there in the uncomfortable space where anything is possible and everybody is included.
How will you escape your comfort circle? When?