Thoughts on Success from the Yoga Mat

I’ve always been a wanna-be yogi.

Although I’ve never really dove into a consistent practice, I’m drawn to it yoga because of all of the success stories I’ve heard. So many people talk about how yoga has led them to a better physique, but more importantly, to mental clarity and peace of mind; I decided to give it a shot. Even my best efforts have been a bit spotty, but there has been progress.

Some days the yoga poses and practice of being mindful come very easily; I glide from posture to posture, fully focused on my breath and the intention I have set for the day.

Today was not one of those day—every movement took effort and lots of it. The unexpected humidity outside and crowded room made for an extra warm class; Holding a posture for more than a couple of breaths was anything but comfortable. Nonetheless, breath by breath, I made my way through the discomfort, leading to a realization about success that applies both on and off the yoga mat.

Success is an ambiguous word—ask 20 people what it means and you’ll get many  answers. To some it means having a prestigious, lucrative career. To others it means sharing their art and living their passion. Some find success in having a family or giving back to the community. For many of us, it’s a combination of these definitions, among many others.

Regardless of one’s personal definition, there is one element present in all meaningful forms of success; that ingredient is discomfort. In order to experience success on any level, we must learn to be OK with discomfort.

Sometimes our journey to success demands that we take risks outside of our comfort zone.

Whether the challenge is embracing the learning process, daring to be vulnerable in our relationships—or in my case, holding crow pose for a few more breaths—our success is directly proportional to our ability to be handle discomfort.

Of course, not all discomfort should be accepted; sometimes we feel uncomfortable because things aren’t working and changes need to be made, but more often than not the discomfort that comes with commitment and growth is a necessary check point on the path to success. Our invitation is to learn the difference and act accordingly.

My objective on the yoga mat, and in real life is this: Instead of resisting discomfort, simply observe it, identify its role in the present and choose to use it as a stepping stone toward a much bigger reward than we would have received outside our oh-so-cozy comfort zones.

I am grateful to have been shown this important life lesson on the yoga mat and will do my best to apply it off the mat as well.

Maybe I’m becoming a yogi, after all.