One thing you can count on in life is that there will be change. Look around, it’s everywhere. Seasons change. Babies are born, and then they grow up. Friends and family move away and pass away. Hairstyles and fashions don’t stay the same from one year to the next. Jobs come and go. Relationships evolve, and sometimes they deepen and sometimes they end. Think about any area in your life, and you will see change. Imagine that your boss or spouse or friend calls you up (or texts you, as is more likely the case with all the changes in the way we communicate) and says “Things need to change”. How do you feel? Excited and optimistic or nervous and anxious?
Change is challenging, and it is constant. A change I recently made was leaving a steady job with smart people and a nice salary to pursue my passion for teaching Yoga full-time. “But you have it so good!” A few friends mentioned. “I guess if you can afford it” said others. And, a lot of “I admire people who do what you are doing. I’d be too afraid.” All of these friends know how much I love teaching Yoga and that I’ve been trying to make this change for quite a while. But even my friends, who are not actually making a change, are having trouble handling my change. It is hard for us to change, and it is also challenging to watch others change around us. I think my practice helped me to come to the final decision to make this particular change. In November, I added Ashtanga classes to my practice. Ashtanga has always been a big challenge for me, and the first few classes were so humbling. But it signaled to me that I had the courage to make other changes in my life, which is just one of the ways our practice can empower us. Once the momentum began, there was no turning back.
Here are just 5 of the many ways Yoga helps us cope with change.
- Yoga strengthens your inner resources. Sometimes we get defensive and blame others when change has happened. Our practice teaches us instead to witness the change, and examine our own response to it. When we recognize our role, we understand what we need to do to face the change, and seek the strength to do so.
- Yoga helps you recognize habits and patterns. While things change, we may still remain in our old habits and patterns—they are familiar and often provide a comforting frame of reference. But they may not serve us in our new situation. In our practice, when we become a witness, we can notice these patterns and be open to a new approach.
- Yoga helps you recognize reactions in the mind and body, rather than identifying with the mind and the body. Even though we each have a mind and we each have a body, we are not our minds and bodies. Sometimes this confuses us. When we can recognize our reactions for what they are, we can chose to a different approach.
- Yoga helps you to live in the moment. Change brings fear in both the past and future directions. We may be hesitant to let go of the past and identify with things in our past. Or we may be projecting out various outcomes in the future, often letting our fears get the best of us. Our practice teaches us to recognize the present moment and live fully in it.
- Yoga encourages you to let go of expectations. As previously mentioned, expectations often lead to disappointment. They also get in the way of being in the moment. Most things are not as bad as you imagine, and many are better than you expect!
In summary, Yoga helps you regain perspective when in the midst of change, which is an integral part of life.
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly slight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”