In Yoga Thoughts

Change is the only constant in life. – Heraclitus

Spring is such a beautiful and profound reminder that life is in a constant state of change.

My husband and I went away for two days this weekend and came home to an entirely different yard. Grass that had been dry, brittle and sparse is now lush and green. The bare, woody vines of the climbing hydrangea on our garden shed are suddenly green with leaves. Our little magnolia that had been dropping the petals of its white blooms is now covered in bright green foliage.

The pace of the change in our little garden is nothing short of dizzying. After the long, gray, wet winter, this is change I can get behind 100%. Just looking out my window at these changes brightens my mood. Sitting on my back step and soaking them in makes me think deep thoughts such as, “Change is a very good thing.” And “Change is growth.” And “Without change, we are not alive.”

And then I pause and think about the sore shoulder that is messing with my yoga practice. And my especially great semester at Villanova drawing to a close. And my youngest child getting ready to leave home to go to college. As I get overwhelmed with emotion, I look out at my yard and I think again.

If the unbearably muddy mess that was my yard mere days ago can transform into this lovely thing, why would I ever fight or resist or dread change? Because, just as there was nothing I could do to speed the drying of the mud (and end the need to clean eight muddy paws eighteen times a day), there is nothing I can do to stop or even slow these other “less beautiful” changes happening in my life.

Perhaps this is what the unknown sage meant when s/he uttered these words:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. – Unknown

I can let my sore shoulder tempt me into skipping my practice entirely. Or I can gently practice with it. I can study each movement and each sensation and learn a little more about what is causing the pain. I can honor my discomfort while it heals. I can trust (really, truly trust) that it will heal and that I will be doing all of my practice again in what will (in hindsight at least) feel like a blink of an eye.

I can head into class for the remaining Tuesday and Thursday mornings of the semester feeling sad about saying good-bye to this group of students who I’ve loved teaching and from whom I’ve learned so much. Or I can bounce into class excited to enjoy them – their willingness to try new things, their wonderful ability to connect yoga philosophy to topics as wide-ranging as engineering and politics, their ability to take the lessons I show up to share to a level I hadn’t before considered – a few more times. And I can trust (really, truly trust) that I will fall in love with my students next semester too.

I can stick my head in the sand and ignore the fact that my home life is about to change in a big, heart-rending way. Or I can embrace my daughter’s excitement about her next step. I can help her plan and dream (and even pack). I can do some planning and dreaming of my own for the new freedom that is coming my way. Sure, I might cry a little. (I’m definitely going to cry.) But, when I slow down and get still, I feel the little thrill that always seems to be hiding within the trepidation of a change big enough that I can see it coming from miles (and months) away.

Even in this change, I can trust (really, truly trust) that this, too, will be filled with life. That, as the mud out back dried and transformed into lawn, as bare vines and branches are now covered with leaves, that this next stage of life (and the next and the next and the next) will yield fulfilling and fruitful growth.

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change. – Confucius

Clearly, I’m not among the wisest of men and women. But I’m not among the stupidest either, because, thanks to a two-day trip and a little lazing on my back step, I’ve decided that, for me, the growth that comes from all change is not optional.

How about you?

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