Sunday, August 22, 2010
A friend who practices at a different yoga studio shared this story recently: The teacher had run the session fifteen minutes beyond the usual ninety. Students were upset, and exhausted. The teacher, someone just out of training, responded by pointing out that dealing with the unexpected is part of the practice. And then she said, "One of the good things about a yoga practice is that it makes you appreciate change. Every time I say change at the end of a pose, you're grateful to move on."
So for the last few times I attended class, I paid attention to how I felt when the teacher said, "Change." And it's true. At that moment I feel gratitude, relief, and more and more a sense of accomplishment that I've managed to stay in the pose for the 20 or 30 or 60 seconds required.
I've always loved change, but with conditions.
The transition time between seasons. The shifting of light from dawn to day to dusk. New territory, both geographic and cognitive. My soul sings and soars during these times of change.
In these late summer days when the wind and slant of light both warn of waning days, I feel the most alive. The sky is a kaleidoscope of texture and color, a feast of visual manna. The air rests on skin like a benediction. Every day feels like a full and finite gift, unique, never to be repeated or duplicated.
It's the ambush changes that are harder to embrace. The strange older face looking back at me from the mirror. Death in any form. Plans that don't follow the plotted route.
I think the key is to hold expectations lightly, and to expect change rather than to try to prepare for it or resist the possibility of it. To reach a point of trust that all change holds equal potential for dark and light, and that my power rests in acceptance.
And to breathe. In yoga we're told constantly to breathe normally, to return to our breath, to breathe through our noses to stay calm and present. Somewhere in the space of breathing, the rhythm of it, the no-brain part of it - that's where the strength to flow with change, both expected and unexpected, can be found.