The Mysterious Case of the Too Tight Pants

My daughter, Sadie, is a sweet but fierce 5-year old. While she loves to follow the rules and remind other when they are not following the rules, she also has some very strong opinions. Especially about what she wears.

Not too long ago, right as the season started to shift and we had just pulled out all of the cool weather clothes from last year, she insisted on wearing this particular pair of pants. Typically not a problem, even when in this case they totally clashed with the rest of her outfit. However, these last winter pants were at least one, maybe more like two sizes too small. I pointed out to her that while the pants were super fabulous, they were probably going to be uncomfortable.

“They are already pinching your belly, love. I think you should choose something else.”

Nope. It was those pants. She was not to be swayed.

I relented. Because a) fights about clothing are not worth it. And b) she was wearing a dress so I figured worse case scenario, she takes off the pants at school and it’s still good.

But no. When she stepped off the bus, she was still wearing those too tight pants. And she was wearing a super-grumpy face to go with it.

Of course you are grumpy, I thought. You were wearing pants that were two sizes too small. All. Day. Long!

And sure enough, she came inside and took off the pants and felt heaps better.

It was easy enough for me to smile knowingly and shrug off the pants episode as childhood nonsense. But then I started thinking….

Sheesh. I’ve totally done this same thing! Haven’t you?

For me it goes like this:

Oh, I loved this fancy dress when I bought it and it’s just been sitting there my closet. It is just perfect for this wedding/funeral/cocktail party! Hmmmmm. It’s a little too tight but it will only be a few hours, right? It will be fine!

Famous last words. Soon after I’m grumpily trying to adjust my dress in the ladies room and lamenting the fact that I can’t dance as much as I’d like.

You know what I mean?

But even when I think about this scenario as a metaphor, there are tons of times when I’ve squished myself into places and moments that didn’t fit quite right.

A meeting. A school event. A job. A house. A family gathering… You name it.

Undoubtably this is a requirement of living adult life.

But here’s the thing. When we do this so often, the uncomfortable too tight sensation starts to feel like that’s how it always has to be. We acclimate to the experience. It’s just normal. We always feel like we are wearing clothing a few sizes too small.

So then we show up on our yoga mats for our asana practice. The poses become a continuation of this too tight pants experience. We squish bodies into uncomfortable doesn’t fit quite right shapes. We allow the postures to be imposed upon us. They are checklist-able items to perfect.

Tree pose? Check.

Warrior 1? Check.

Triangle pose? Check.

Cobra pose? Check.

Hey, this so good for you. No pain, no gain. It’s what it means to be an adult. Right? Right? Right?

At my last restorative yoga retreat, a participant had a revelatory moment. She told me, “What was so amazing about this weekend was that you were asking us to to care if we were comfortable or not. I don’t think I ever really think about that. It was when I got really comfortable here that realized I’m uncomfortable almost all of the time.”

(Want to see for yourself? My next retreat is in January.)

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to consider whether or not we are comfortable, we have some opportunities to practice some *real* yoga.

It’s not just about accumulating or accomplishing poses. And it’s definitely not about enforcing someone else’s definition of how a pose is supposed to be.

Just in case you were starting to get worried, I’m not saying all of this to discount or diminish alignment instructions in our asana practice. Our group yoga classes together aren’t suddenly going to devolve into everyone rolling around on the floor or cuddling up for nap time. (Just for the record, that would be really great too!)

I am suggesting that if we are not reflective about our experiences of comfort and discomfort in our practice, we aren’t really doing yoga.

Comfort and complacency aren’t the same thing. Read this oldie but goodie post about contentment if you need a reminder about that.

And sometimes we really do have to agitate to get the desired results for ourselves. Remind me to tell you the story about the time my washing machine wasn’t working.

But until then, make it your practice to attend to your comfort. This is so critical at this time of year.

As the year winds down and the holiday season is upon us, we can be adulting it up so much that we force ourselves into too tight pants. Literally and metaphorically.

Please don’t. Because it’s going to make you grumpy. I guarantee it.

Happy holiday season, my friends. Take care of yourself and each other out there. Hope to see you on the mat soon!

1 reply
  1. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Thank you, Tara, for this beautiful and timely metaphor. When I chose to host 23 people for Thanksgiving, I decided there was only one way it was going to work—to stay focused on what was important, my loved ones all being together in the spirit of love and gratitude. In the preceding weeks, I noticed times when my mind would start to worry about details, and I’d feel the constricting sensations of “too tight pants.” That was my cue to pause, breathe, and remember gratitude and love. I try to carry into life the approach I’ve adopted on the mat (one that has taken years to embrace)—show up consistently and lovingly. I know when and how to gently lean into discomfort and when to welcome comfort because yoga takes me home to the place within that knows what I need in each moment. It is the pathway to bliss. Peace and love to you and everyone here this holiday season!

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