How Movement Can Teach Us to Welcome Discomfort

June 21, 2021

When we first begin to exercise or if exercising for the first time after a long time, the act is often very uncomfortable to our bodies. When you take those first steps or lift those dusty weights, you move your arms and legs in ways that may feel new or uncomfortable. As you move more, you begin to distinguish pain from discomfort. Discomfort is very normal during physical activity… actually, it is part of the point We begin to lean into that discomfort and allow our bodies to experience those sensations because we learn it is normal during exercise. We may even start embracing the discomfort!

So, what happens when we embrace the discomfort when holding a yoga pose, adding another rep, running a little further, or increasing in weight? Our bodies become stronger. Our bodies begin to adapt. This does not make it less uncomfortable every single time we engage in movement, but it becomes a little bit easier because we start to lean into the discomfort, and we are familiar with the sensation.

During new physical activities we typically notice that inner chatter box in our minds every now and then. “This is too hard” “I can’t hold this pose for much longer” “You won’t be able to keep up.” Your mind may even sound like it is screaming these words at you in the beginning. However, with every pose, rep, run… with every practice, that voice becomes a little quieter. It may sit in the corner and whisper these words to you, but you recognize that voice now for what it is. You may even prove it wrong at times.

As you begin incorporating movement into your life. Recognize your ability to lean into the discomfort. Recognize how it is an adjustment and make space for new or different physical sensations. Notice that those thoughts are normal when engaging in a new activity but over time, with practice, it becomes easier both physically and mentally. One way to practice this is by simply noticing your thoughts and sensations the next time you engage in movement. See if you can make room for them and welcome them. Notice the difference in fighting against the discomfort compared to working with the discomfort.


By Melany Rodriguez