Adapting through Changes: Lessons from the Yoga Mat

As colder weather sets in, the days become shorter, and the seasons change, so does our yoga practice. We require more time to limber up, standing yoga postures may take up a larger portion of our class, and we may need to break out the blankets for added warmth and comfort during savasana. It’s getting cold.

The more flexible we are in adapting to changes, the stronger and more resilient we become. These are undoubtedly lessons that we’ve carried through from COVID lockdown. We often reflect upon the COVID years as lost time in our lives, and we’re now mindful of not wasting any more time. We’re attending events, getting out in nature, meeting friends, teaching more group classes, running workshops, and just being around people.

Yogis have an incredible self-awareness that is grounding and robust. Unfortunately, I’ve come across numerous people who stop doing what they love when their lives’ circumstances change, and one of those things can be yoga.

I often hear reasons such as:
• “I’ve had neck issues from work, and I cannot do headstand and deep backbends, so I stopped going to my classes.”
• “I’ve put on weight or I’m not currently fit, so I cannot do yoga.”
• “I love dynamic practices, but my body cannot do it, so I stopped going to my classes.”
• “I’ve had a break from yoga, but now I’m scared and do not feel ready to go back.”
• “Unexpected health issues have arisen, so I stopped practicing.”
• “Relationships that are dismantled or new ones arise, and feeling too tired to get back to classes.”

The list goes on! Life issues, body issues, and financial conditions can undoubtedly have a real impact.

But I say, let’s adapt. Do not stop doing what you love. Do not lose confidence if there are postures you cannot do. Do not be hesitant to discuss any changes. I’m very intuitive to student needs, but your disclosure is so important. All new yogis who have started with me this year have been on a wonderful journey as we discuss their needs, so I can be mindful of them.

(By the way, about those headstands. I rarely do them! They do not make me feel good. I had a huge car accident about 15 years ago, and my car hit an electricity pole after flying through the air, so my neck feels sensitive, and I guard it.)

Strength, flexibility, and fitness levels are always changing – but we adapt. During my Monday morning class last week, I was teaching Malasana – a deep squat pose with a seated variation for yogis to choose from. One of my students said, “Wow, I couldn’t do this pose at all two months ago, but I can do it today.” Janae had a great smile and was happily surprised. The yogi behind her, Caroline, commented, “I can’t do Malasana anymore; it does not feel good, so I don’t do it.”

Boom, and I’m literally the happiest yoga teacher! Yoga is about doing what feels right and adapting confidently along the way. There’s no pressure, there’s enough of that in life, who needs that when doing a yoga class?

We go with the flow, we enjoy, we stay safe, and we’re not scared to adapt. In that way, yoga is your best card in the deck for mind and body health and wellbeing. It’s something you can maintain forever if we’re not afraid of changes and are mindful of adaptation.