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Are you in "The Zone"? Save yourself, get out!

comfort zone ice skating kindness niyama - tapas nottingham ice arena nottingham yoga blog wellness Apr 13, 2018
Image credit - Vasilios Muselimis

Image credit - Vasilios Muselimis

In my yoga classes, you will often hear me mentioning Sthira Sukhamasanam, as per the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ‘a pose of comfort and ease’. The idea being that if we incorporate the yamas of ahimsa (kindness), satya (honesty), brahmacarya (only taking what you need) and the niyama santosha (contentment), we can move our body only as far into the poses where we feel a stretch and allow our drishti or focus to go within. These sutras invite us into our practise to cleanse our physical body of toxins and encourage the flow of energy within to prepare the body for a spiritual practise; be it concentration, meditation or prayer.

Have you read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali? I feel I should confess that I haven’t yet finished my copy of Sri Swami Satchidananda’s translation BUT of the chapters I have read, have been well-digested, understood and ingrained to my psyche. (As I believe all valuable information deserves to be learned.) The remaining of  the 196 sutras are a work in progress and I shall continue to work my way through them in their own time and enjoy the process of incorporating them into my life.

So, moving on to this position of comfort. Is it a bad thing to pack up into your old kit bag and move out of this comfort zone?? Scary schizz, right there folks...

No. It is not a bad thing.

Being a yoga teacher and practising yogini for almost twenty years, my balance is pretty  good, but stick me on a pair of ice skates and whoa, that’s a whole different kettle of tuna. Yet I am in awe when I see someone gliding gracefully over the ice. I decided many moons back that I’d like to learn but being pregnant at the time, decided to wait. Each year since, there has been some reason of which I’ve convinced myself if it’s importance, that I can’t learn this year. And the next year. And the next year. For perspective, my son is eight years old. In fairness, I have been busy being a mother, one half of a successful, entrepreneurial business team and a student, but when it came down to the brass tacks of it, I was just plain scared of stepping out of my comfort zone and rather attached to staying upright and vertical.

I mentioned I’m a mother; my boys, despite loving their sedentary positions when they are gaming, both have streaks of daredevil in them and a few months ago got a taste for ice skating. We went as a family to the Christmas market in Nottingham and within minutes, they were both off - dashing about the ice fearlessly whilst I clung onto my husbands arm for dear life like some kind of drunken Bambi. It was funny, although I felt rigid with fear of falling and man, did I ache afterwards.

Forward to a similar experience at the Nottingham Ice Arena with my sons teenage friends, who were also off within minutes. I got around the ice as best I could but again, tense, rigid and not unlike the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. I wanted to love it and I wanted that quite desperately.

Then from nowhere, a lady, let’s call her Glinda skated backwards in front of me to talk to me. I am shockingly bad at guessing peoples ages but I would have guessed her at around 70ish and she was At. Home. “Lift your eyes from the ice, my dear, look forward, have a smile, enjoy it.” Absolutely magical. She only said those few words to me but I felt like she really spoke to my heart, in a hippy dippy kind of way with eyes that were so joyful.

And so I did.

I lifted my gaze, I relaxed my shoulders, I softened into the activity I was doing and it felt good! I nearly cried happy tears, because that’s what I do. I’m not telling you I was miraculously turned into Jayne Torvill but heck, It felt so much better than being scared and stiff.

Glinda carried on her merry way with her perfectly coiffed white white, fluffy white jumper and mini- skater skirt. Effortless, graceful and full of serenity. I kept seeing her offering different gems to other Bambi skaters.

I keep thinking about Glinda and can only surmise that she must have been an ice skating teacher because in that short sentence or two and with her joyful, happy eyes she conveyed everything that she loved about this activity to me and gave me the confidence to try. I’m willing to bet she was an excellent teacher. If I had have been confident enough to stay upright, I would have hugged her.

I can liken this experience to yoga lessons I have been taught; telling myself, ‘I can’t do this pose or that pose’, but you know what? What matters is that my body finds that position of comfort and ease and if that happens to be the full expression of the pose or not, it’s all good. It’s a yoga practise, not a yoga perfect.

What matters is that I can trust myself to try the things that scare me just a little bit.

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