On a weekend trip to my husband's hometown of Hamburg, New York, I joined a morning yoga practice at the local Bikram studio. My teacher, Bianka Szijgyártó, shared this nugget of wisdom about halfway through the 90-minute practice in a room heated to about 104 degrees:

Yoga is about becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Oooooohhh. Yes. At that moment, I was physically uncomfortable.

Yoga is not always comfortable for me, and that may be true for you. Uncomfortable is not the same as discomfort, which signals pain, and I never recommend you practice a pose that feels painful. But uncomfortable, well, yes. Practice becoming comfortable. 

How do I move through the uncomfortable feeling I experience while in a pose? I acknowledge it, first, without judging why I am feeling uncomfortable. I stay in the moment, content to breathe and simply feel what I feel. Then, I use my knowledge of the energetic lines in my body to send help where help is needed. 

Take Plank Pose, for example. It challenges me, and I am often uncomfortable when I practice it. Why? Because I am supporting all of me on my hands and my toes and gravity is pulling my full body's weight toward the earth. It can feel heavy and difficult to support myself.

Yet, when I practice Plank and visualize the energy of the muscles on the back of my body lifting in the opposite direction, I feel lighter. I send energy to the muscles of my upper and lower back, my pelvic muscles, the hamstrings, calves, and achilles upward. This energy literally takes the load off my contact points with the floor. My whole body is active. All of me is giving energy to the posture.

And the uncomfortable dissolves a little more with each breath. 

Bianka's words resonated with me and reminded me of another reason I practice yoga: what I learn on the mat I take with me off the mat.

Beyond yoga, when I experience the uncomfortable, I use the same practice of calling on an opposite energy to lift me through life's challenges. In a stressful situation, for example, I acknowledge how I feel, without judgement of me or others. I visualize what I want the outcome to be and shift my energy toward that result, and then call upon myself to bring about that outcome. 

If an upcoming meeting is the source of my stress, for example, I focus on how can I prepare better to achieve the outcome I want. Maybe that means involving others in advance so that the meeting goes more smoothly and serves the most productive purpose. By asking what can I do, now, to improve how I feel, I immediately shift to a solution mindset that empowers me and energizes me.

Dissolving the uncomfortable on the mat by pulling in all of my energy in a focused, purposeful way is also a key to living a life that is more in the moment, using my energy to shift toward what's possible.