As I told you in my last blog, there is a lot of change in my life right now. Some of it is very exciting. I am looking forward to new adventures in the world of Energy Medicine. And some of it is very sad. If you are in the yoga community in Columbia, you probably received an email yesterday which said that alleyCat Yoga Center in Columbia will be closing on May 20. This has been my yoga home since its inception almost 20 years ago. Ken McCrae, the founder, and Susan Mathis, the current owner have been my dearest yoga teachers and friends.
Whether exciting or sad, change can throw you off course if you aren’t engaging in practices that help you stay grounded and centered. There are many ways to help yourself go through change. You can process your feelings by talking and writing about them. You can also use the teachings from your preferred spiritual practice to help you put it into perspective and to give you techniques for handling emotions.
From the Yoga and Buddhist teachings we learn that change is inevitable. In fact, life changes in every moment. To resist this truth is to resist reality. When you resist reality, you suffer. Learning to let go of the present moment so that the next moment can arise unhindered is a great lesson to learn. In this way, we allow each moment to be as it is, and we open to it with acceptance, faith, and trust. We accept it because that is really the only sane approach to an ever-changing reality. We have faith and trust that we have the capacity to hold whatever comes our way.
The Niyamas from the Yoga teachings also give us some practices to help with changing circumstances. The first one I thought about was Santosha which is the Sanskrit word for “contentment.” Santosha encourages you to be happy with what you have and who you are, right now. Frequently, however, you can watch the mind saying, “I can’t be happy unless (fill in the blank) happens.” You put a condition on life that says it must be a particular way for you to be happy. This is a set-up for unhappiness if there ever was one. On the other hand, you can cultivate contentment. Can you rest in the present, just as it is? You might not prefer it, but you can still be content with it.
Isvara Pranidhana is the second Niyama that I rely on in times of change. Isvara Pranidhana is often translated as ‘surrendering to God’. But I find it easier to interpret this as ‘surrendering to things as they are’ or simply letting go of my expectations. I also experience this as a sense that there is a divine order to things that is beyond my knowing. I know from the past that when I put my efforts toward controlling life it has not worked out as well as when I let life and love flow through me. This reminds me of a beautiful song by Alexa Sunshine Rose called “I Release Control.” Take a listen.
Of course, you can practice yoga and meditation. These practices have been studied for decades and the benefits are almost endless. They are definitely my go-to when I feel off balance or just to stay balanced so that when a big change happens, I’m not thrown off course. One particular pose from yoga that helps me feel like I can overcome difficulties is called “exalted warrior.” That’s the pose I’m doing in the picture above. My gaze is toward the heavens and energetically I feel like I have the confidence to meet any challenge in life. It’s one of my favorites!
I have numerous meditations on my website that you can use (check out my multimedia page). I also have yoga videos there OR you can come in person and practice with me at alleyCat through May 19. Wednesdays I teach an Energy Medicine Yoga class at 5:30 p.m. and Fridays I teach a Kripalu yoga class at 4:30 p.m. I will also be continuing to teach after alleyCat Yoga closes. So, stay tuned. I will be announcing those offerings in the near future.
Don’t hold on. Let go. Let life unfold its treasures to you. They may not be what you think you want sometimes, but give them a chance to teach you.