Challenges can come from the outside world or from inside of us. However they come into our lives they can either help us to grow or minimize our self worth. The choice is ultimately ours.

Death of a loved one, losing your job, a marriage falling apart, losing a limb, being insulted, bad weather, an annoying co-worker, an insensitive family member are examples of challenges coming from the outside. Not our choice but none the less, we most deal with them. Anything that makes life a little or a lot more difficult without choosing it is one of those life challenges that tests us.

We can challenge ourselves to become stronger, faster, smarter,leaner, more creative, kinder, more disciplined and the list goes on. So challenge involves some discomfort and extra effort to grow into our best selves. There is always the risk of failure to achieve our goal but challenges keep life interesting and zesty.

I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I am going to fall on my face.
~ Johnny Depp

Gabi Ury is a great example of dealing with both kinds of challenges. Two days after her sixteenth birthday she broke the Guiness book of world records for a female holding the longest abdominal plank. This is done on your forearms and toes holding your body in a straight line off the floor.

Over a hundred people supported Gabi on site during her record-breaking attempt. She distracted herself from her arduous task by watching TV shows, reading books, and listening to music on her computer. It was hard but she did it. And she never wants to do it again!

The other amazing challenge that was not optional for Gabi is Vater syndrome that she was born with. This affects the spine, legs, feet and some of her organs. Gabi has no calf muscles which are really useful in holding a plank. Her scoliosis is so severe she has had 14 surgeries since birth.

Part of her motivation for breaking the world’s plank record was to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Colorado where she had her surgeries that enabled her to walk and run and lead a normal life. She raised $50,000 and inspired many along her journey.

Challenges come in many forms. They can either defeat us or help us to be our best. Having the right attitude ultimately affects how effectively we will deal with the challenge and how it will benefit not just us but others as well.

If our goal in challenging ourselves is to feed our egos, we may easily be disappointed. The ego is never really satiated and our victory may ultimately end up feeling hollow. But if we challenge ourselves to become a better person, to inspire others and to enable us to help others, then the rewards are rich and meaningful.

Yoga challenges us in many different ways. The asanas (poses) ask us to move in ways and directions that are typically not part of our daily lives. This often requires a balance of strength and flexibility. For some people the poses may be the bigger challenge and for others the stillness of meditation may be the most challenging. Letting go of the ego, even in yoga, can be difficult, but feeling confident may also be the issue that arises. Staying with the breath, listening to our bodies, not pushing too hard but pushing enough, are all part of the real practice of yoga.

Warrior II can be easy if your knee is at less than a 90 degree angle. But getting the front thighbone parallel to the floor requires deep concentration, commitment and using our whole body to support the post. The most demanding poses like handstands, arm balances, deep back bends, all demand this kind of attention and full body awareness. Even Savasana, the ultimate resting pose, asks us to fully relax, to fully let go, and to maintain awareness within this deep relaxation.

Can you jump a little higher? Can you dig a little deeper? Can you love a little more? Can you judge a little less? Can you forgive? Embrace these challenges and find yourself being the person you were born to be.