"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch
For a lot of us, simply making it to class is a big step out of our comfort zones. We don't know how we're going to be challenged, if we're going to be asked to work harder than we want to, if we're going to be doing something that we can't do well, or pretty, or perfect. But the simple act of walking through the door and trying your best is the first step towards progress, and progress means that next time you try a little bit harder, you get a little bit faster and you find a new comfort zone. By continuing to challenge your comfort zones, you get stronger, not only physically but mentally, and it's the mental strength where growth and change truly happen.
There is an amazing phenomenon that happens when you work hard and succeed at something you think you couldn't do: you try something else you think you couldn't do. Sports psychologists know this well, but for me it was a surprising discovery: as I got stronger physically and challenged my boundaries with things I was scared to try in the gym, I suddenly found myself having the confidence to challenge my boundaries with things I was scared to try outside of the gym. I knew that if I put in the work and the effort, I could achieve success. And that's not to say that there weren't injuries and roadblocks and failures along the way. This time last year I was severely injured and suddenly couldn't do the things I loved and did well. So after being stubborn for a few months and pushing through the pain (and making things worse), I fell into a funk and became a slug. Neither of these paths did me any good, but they were safe and allowed me to stay inside my bubble of comfort. However, I became more and more depressed as my strength dwindled and my pain increased.
And then I got fed up. I was fed up with my injury, I was fed up with my laziness, I was fed up with my lack of effort. So I stepped out of my bubble and tried something new: yoga. As a yoga teacher, you might find this amusing, but yoga is a very personal thing to me and to not be good at something, especially yoga, was way out of my comfort zone. So I started going to classes where I knew I wouldn't be "good" and would be challenged in a new way. I started to learn new things and challenged new boundaries and along the way built a different kind of strength that gave my body the chance to heal. Physically and mentally. And every time I did something I thought I couldn't, I started to rebuild that confidence in my daily life as well. As they say in yoga, let go of what no longer serves you. So if my old comfort zone no longer served a purpose, then it was time to let it go. I realized that there is always a way to achieve what you want, it just might not be the way you expect.
So remember: the next time you're asked to pick up a heavier weight, or run a little faster, or look silly on your mat, embrace the challenge. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and redefine your path to success; the determination you find in that moment builds a new connection in your brain that carries over to everything you do. When you finish a hard workout and feel proud of your effort, know that you can apply that to anything you want. Because you're strong. Both physically and mentally. If you really want it, go for it. Let go of the fear and make the change you want to see in you, and your life. As quoted from a fellow SFG instructor, Hannah Fons, "I think we all agree that serious strength work can transform your life. But transformation is by its nature a violent act. In order to be rebuilt, things get torn down - and that's a big deal, whether you're talking about a nation, a building, or a person."
Here's to your transformation.