3 Lessons From the Mat On Change
In last week's blog we talked about change and different ways to look at this life long process. This week I would like to visit about a few ways that yoga can help us to manage the process of change. There are many lessons to be had when it comes to yoga and change, but, these are three things that I have experienced repeatedly over my years of practice. Three lessons that keep coming back to me.
Be open to the experience.
With a yoga asana, the physical yoga practice, everyday is different. One morning you may wake up feeling nourished, refreshed and ready for the day. You arrive at you mat and your body just flows. It feels good to move. Your joints, bones, and muscles work together making you feel strong and capable. Then the next day you may come to your mat feeling nothing has changed. Your sleep, meals, and processes were the same as the day prior, and yet, when you start to move on your mat your body is different. You feel stiff, slow, and disconnected. Your limbs feel tight, hesitant, just plain uncooperative.
If you are willing to try after that hard day, you will find that each day will be a new and completely different experience. Everyday is a new day for sure. It does get easier, and things tend to flow more readily with time, but everyday is new. Learning to accept this helps us to more readily accept changes in other parts of our lives.
Yoga asana helps teach us to enjoy the experience, rather then just the results.
This is a hard one for a lot of people, myself included. For me, my asana practice helped me learn acceptance through healing and injury. I had been practicing for years when, in an unfortunate Nintendo Wii incident, I partially tore a small muscle in my rotator cuff… ( my husband still thinks this is hilarious and would gladly share the story with anyone who asks…). IT HURT.
I had a fairly strong physical practice at this point, and, I had a wonderful teacher! I was “forced” to sit out of a lot of poses I wanted to be practicing. I was “forced” to settle into restorative poses and modified traditional poses while others continued to advance. I learned to watch, learned to watch my reactions, learned to breath into pain and accept that I was not where I used to be. It took me months, many tears, and lots of pranayama to let go of what I expected of myself and accept where I was at that time. The funny thing is that once I accepted what was happening, my body started to cooperate. My practice became stronger than it had ever been.
I had learned that accepting where I was, rather then forcing myself to be where I was not, gave me room to heal and grow.
Learning to play again.
This may not be the lesson some of you where expecting, but, I want to take us back to the playground. Yoga poses can be very reminiscent of playing as a kid. They have funny names, silly shapes, and lots of movements our bodies forget as we age. We have a tendency to get caught up in doing things “right”, or reaching our goal and we forget to enjoy. We forget to play, to look for the fun in change. Enjoying that crazy kid that makes us look outside our comfort zone.
If we are able to find the joy in our yoga we can forget about the goal. If we can let go of the competitive nature that is drilled into us, we can find the playfulness within ourselves, the joy in the success, and the fun that falling down can sometimes be. We can see ourselves and everything around us as a playmate, a jungle gym, a sandbox.
Yoga asana helps to teach us to be open. Open to the hard changes, the bullies, the poses that knock us down over and over. Open to working through that nagging pose that keeps poking at us, wanting to play. Open to trying the crazy, odd poses we never thought we could do! ( A handstand, or the splits.) Yoga asana helps to teach us that sometimes change can be fun, hard, but fun!