Discomfort Zone

Carri UrangaAs a yoga and Pilates teacher, I’m often suggesting to students to step outside of their comfort zones. We spend a lot of time doing what comes easy or natural to us. This year I will be practicing what I preach, as I have many plans in which I, too, will be going outside of my comfort zone. Even sharing this info with readers is going outside of my comfort zone.

I was thinking of this just now as I was going through children’s clothing to take with me to South Africa. I will be teaching at a Yoga retreat there next week. As part of South Africa Yoga’s community investment, they support an early childhood development center. I had asked them if I could bring anything with me and they said they needed children’s clothing. I do not have kids myself, so I drew upon my generous friends and now have a nice stash to take with me.

You may wonder what any of this has to do with going outside of your comfort zone. Well, I have never wanted children, have not spent much time around them and never really had the interest. I never even babysat as a teenager… trust me, you definitely would not have wanted me around your kids when I was a kid myself, but that’s another story! I’ve just never been a kid person. For me to look forward to visiting this early childhood development center is really exciting. I actually am truly looking forward to it! I think partly it’s because I’ll be doing something completely different than “me” and anything I would normally do. For me to make lots of space in my backpack for kid’s clothes, well… that’s definitely new.

You see, I’ve always kind of considered myself sort of a selfish person. I’m sure others would argue. Sure I have a big heart, I’m extremely compassionate, I am very kind… but I do most things for me. I exercise a lot, I read, I watch movies, I spend lots of time with my husband, I travel. I have always admired those “good” people that are compelled to volunteer locally or spend their vacation time and money working in developing countries. I remember volunteering once in high school, but it was only so I could write it on an application. I have, though, volunteered at yoga studios for the last two years… yes, of course, to get free classes, but also to begin to instill the practice of Seva (selfless service) into my life.

I admire those of you where this comes natural, but for me it is a practice. I happen to not need any motivation to work out for hours. That comes easy to me. So I must practice being a “good” person. I know I’m not by nature a “bad” person. I don’t even like using these words “good/bad” it reminds me of labeling food… again another topic. I want to do something that’s NOT easy for me! This in part is the reason I will be attending Off the Mat Leadership Training with Seane Corn in July. I am finally at a point in my life where I want to do something for others. I feel inspired to transfer the Carri Power I have within and want to pass it on though community projects and global activism.

I know the Off the Mat training will be intense. It will be interesting to see what arises during those five days, especially since I am doing the training with my sister, Lauren. In a way I am nervous, but at the same time excited by the discomfort of it all. I’m sure there will be many tears, but I hope to ultimately leave the training with a new light and direction in which to transmit all of this energy I have within. I know that through teaching I already share this energy, but I’m finally ready to take it off the mat and into the world as I know there is something out there bigger than myself!


March 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Kids love it when we’re silly. Yoga is a great way to be “silly” with little ones. My kids loved it when I would do yoga with them when they were small. Go, have fun and enjoy! :0)


March 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Carri, thank you for sharing. In many ways, I feel the same as my “pure” volunteer experiences are scant. I am trying to develop these skills, and I hope that you will share more of your insights with us after your “off the mat” experience. Enjoy your time in South Africa!


March 29, 2012 at 7:46 am

Carri – We have a lot in common. I also consider myself a “selfish” person – it’s ALL ABOUT ME! Don’t particularly like spending time with children either. As a Pilates, Cycling, and Kettlebell instructor, when members bring their teenagers to class I cringe because I know they will be a distraction. I try to appreciate their “new eyes”. We have something to learn from everyone (no matter their age) as long as we quiet our minds long enough to “listen”. I constantly teach my students to step outside their comfort zone – it’s the only way to encourage some women to use more than a 10 pound kettlebell. If they keep the light weight near-by they usually have the confidence to attempt heavier weights. Good luck with “Off the Mat Leadership Training”.


March 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Carri. I am also “selfish” in all the same ways you are…& then some. I’ve never had that desire to have kids either & sort of feel like an outcast because of it. I so appreciate your honesty! This year is also about pushing myself & getting out of some of my own comfort zones, so I loved reading your thoughts & encouragements. Enjoy your time in Africa as well as Off the Mat. It will be beautiful.


April 03, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I love it, This January I went to grad school, in a completely different field that I started in, I love it! but talk about stepping out of my comfort zone. Now I have a weekly challenge for myself to do something or go somewhere that is out of my comfort zone, I love it, to be like this becomes very empowering. Thank you for sharing your story.


April 05, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Thanks for all the comments & support ladies! I am wrapping up my trip here in South Africa and had an amazing time w/ the kids! I can’t wait to tell you all about it in another story. I plan to continue charitable work here with South Africa Yoga as they are doing some exciting things with 8 early childhood development centers in the Free State. Look for more to come soon!


April 06, 2012 at 9:04 am

Carri, thanks for your post. I hope you had a great time in South Africa…your students missed you!!

I love this quote: “problems do not go away. they must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.” I think staying in our comfort zones is one way to avoid problems; pushing yourself outside of that zone forces us to confront our issues, and ultimately, to become stronger and happier within ourselves!

I have a job where I spend a lot of my time public speaking. At first it was scary and hard– I used to refer to it as ‘growing pains,’–because growing is not always a pleasant process. But now I feel so much stronger and more comfortable within myself.

Monique Mann

April 18, 2012 at 3:19 am

Thank you for so much for supporting us Carri! It was so lovely to share the amazing experience of distributing the goods to underprivileged schools with you! You can check out the pics on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.295340573873770.69578.137021559705673&type=3. Hopefully we get to do this again soon!


April 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I love your honesty! And your willingness to share, it really is inspiring. I think its great to love ourselves and be kind to ourselves! “Charity starts in the home.” You create positive energy in yourself, and then it transfers automatically to others! I’m sure anyone who gets a zap of ‘Carri Power’ is truly blessed. Good luck!

Leave a Reply to Allie Cancel reply