A change is gonna come. I see it now. ~ A Change I Gonna Come, Seal.
At first, I fit yoga into my life. Now, I fit my life into yoga.
And once upon a time, I never even did yoga.
That time is hard to imagine now. What did I do before? I fill so much of my time with yoga that there’s hardly any room left in a day, and I wonder how I filled it before.
Change is challenging for me, and so taking up something like yoga, and doing it as frequently as I do, is something I would never have anticipated. I usually like to do the same thing I’ve always done, even if now I can’t remember what exactly that was.
I am a creature of habit, as my son likes to point out. I find a restaurant I love, and it’s the only place I want to go. I’m at a job where lots of people come and go, but I tease everyone that I will be the last one standing. I’m the only one of my siblings who has remained local and, in fact, I raised my children right down the street from where I grew up.
Nothing stays the same, Mom, my daughter tells me.
This is something she already knows as a young adult, but it’s something I’ve only come to recognize at a much later date. And I’m not sure how this is so, because not much has been status quo.
At yoga, I’ve learned that we have a front body and a back body. I never knew this until I was instructed to breathe into my back body. I didn’t know I even had a back body and, even though I might have been asking the obvious, I had to be shown where it was. The part I breathe into is behind my heart, and when I breathe in this direction, I can expand the area on my back between my shoulders. I can do the opposite, too, and breathe into my front body, filling my lungs and lifting my heart.
I just have to know in which direction, and then all I have to do is breathe.
How else to adapt to change? None of us can remain the same, and I don’t think we’re supposed to, either. I used to think the goal was to get settled into whatever the most settled place would be, but now I know differently. Even my practice changes, from where I practice, to how I practice, to when I practice. Change happens and, I think, even though it’s not always easy, it’s best to do as I do in the practice, and that’s to go with the flow. It’s the only way to stay in the game.
It’s the only way forward.
So now what I do is return my daughter’s wisdom, and when she wants to know what’s next, I reassure her with my own experience that it’s not always necessary to know. All that’s needed to know is that something is next, and what it is can be discovered upon arrival.
We were in Pigeon pose the other day, and I lay there in a heap after an hour of practice. I welcomed the rest, and I breathed into my back body. This is a pose in which we are encouraged to let go and, if the instructor says something at this point, it’s usually along these lines.
Let go of something, he said. Only you know what that is.
Then he made a few suggestions, one of which caused me to raise my head from my heap.
Maybe you have a 40-year-plan that you have to let go, even if you don’t know what’s next.
I think he was talking to me! Just becoming a yogi was a big change in itself and, if I think about it, that transformation should prove to me that I’m able to adapt to other changes, too. It just takes me a little while to settle into something new as I have a tendency to look more backward than forward.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
These are not the words of the yoga instructor; instead, they belong to the Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard. It’s my guess that he knew he had a front and back body, too. He wrote these words in the 1800s, but I find them to be true today as I do my best to move my practice forward and move myself forward, too.