May 11, 2014

Change Challenged? 5 Ways Yoga Can Help. ~ Lisa Feder

Change Job

I recently left a steady job with smart people and a nice salary.

I was able to work from the comfort of my home, and part-time, allowing me time to teach my Yoga classes before heading to the “office.” It was a pretty sweet set-up.

And yet, I knew I had to make a change.

“Really?!? How can you leave? You have it so good!” I heard from more than a few friends.

“I guess if you can afford it” shrugged others.

And, most often, “I admire you. I’d be too afraid.”

For years, I’d been talking about starting an on-site corporate Yoga business. I attempted it once, and then an opportunity in my old field presented itself, and I fell right back to my old way of working.

I told myself I’d develop the Yoga business in my spare time. I rationalized that it was just for now to earn some money; I was lucky to still be teaching part-time.

But my heart wasn’t in my work, and there wasn’t any spare time. Each day I felt a little more disconnected from myself; I knew I was not putting my energy behind my passion.

Fear held me back from making the change.

After years of career success, I doubted my abilities, as a businesswoman, and as a teacher.

What if I failed?

It took me a while, but then I realized I would never be “un-scared.” And if I ever wanted to make this change, I needed to escort myself directly out of my comfort zone and into my fear.

So, I set a meeting and made a call, and I heard myself tell my boss that I would be leaving.

After that, there was no turning back.

My practice helped me to come to the final decision to make the change. In November, I changed up my practice and started going to Ashtanga class, which I had avoided the past few years. Even though I teach many “types” of Yoga classes, Ashtanga had always intimidated me.

The first few classes were so humbling (actually, not just the first few, all of them). But those practices showed me that I could make changes to my practice, have a new experience, be in a place of challenge and exquisite “imperfection” and still survive until Svasana.

And if leaving my comfort zone was okay on the mat, it might be okay off the mat as well.

Here are just five of the many ways Yoga helps us cope with change:

Yoga strengthens our inner resources.

Sometimes when change happens, we get defensive and spend time blaming others for what has happened. Our practice teaches us instead to witness the change, and examine our own response to it. When we recognize our role, we understand what we need to do to face the change, and seek the strength to do so.

Yoga helps us recognize habits and patterns.

While things change, we may remain in old habits and patterns—they are familiar and often provide a comforting frame of reference. But they may not serve us in our changed situation. In our practice, when we become a witness, we can notice these patterns and open to a new approach.

Yoga helps us recognize reactions in the mind and body, rather than identifying with the mind and the body.

We each have a mind and we each have a body. But we are not our minds and bodies. Sometimes this confuses us. When we can recognize our reactions for what they are, we can chose to change them.

Yoga helps us to be in the moment.

Change brings fear in both the past and future directions. We may be hesitant to let go of the past and identify with things in our past. Or we may be projecting out various outcomes in the future, often letting our fears get the best of us. Our practice teaches us to recognize the present moment and live fully in it.

Yoga encourages us to let go of expectations.

As previously mentioned, expectations often lead to disappointment. They also get in the way of being in the moment. Most things are not as bad as we imagine, and many are better than we expect!

In summary, Yoga helps us regain perspective when in the midst of change, which is an integral part of life.

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly slight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” ~ C.S. Lewis


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Apprentice Editor: Emily Bartran/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Laura Danila via Pixoto

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Lisa Feder