Digesting and Transforming Through Transitions

Change in our life comes in many different ways.  Sometimes we plan for the change.  A retirement, career change, moving, or getting married are examples of things that we often consciously choose.  Other changes blow in like a strong wind that destroys any sense of order and stability.

There are many teachings in the ancient tradition of yoga for transforming through life’s inevitable changes.   Some of the most profound and useful teachings on change come from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The teachings most helpful center on our relationship to attachment and aversion, understanding what causes suffering, and how to free ourselves from it.  A key action is staying centered in regular yoga practice that is suitable for us as individuals.

A first step in practice might be to find your roots and a sense of stability in the midst of feeling fear, uncertainty, or anxiety around the change.  Yoga methods can be used to create a rootedness in your body.

Postures and breath practice (pranayama) can be profoundly useful in helping us build our prana shakti or vitality so that we are strong and stable in body, physiology (especially our nervous and immune systems) and mind.  Our vitality helps us work with the more difficult aspects of change including thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviors that create suffering.

In any change, there are times of “stuckness” and times of flow.  As you gain some sense of rootedness and stability, you may begin to feel that there is some flow in your life again.  That flow helps us open to creative action around the change.

Major life changes require that we walk through the fire of transformation.  It’s in this fire that we digest the experience and work with our thoughts, emotions and behaviors around the change.  We can be well served by examining our deepest values and priorities so that our decisions come from those values and priorities instead of our fears and insecurities.   Yoga methods like meditation and journaling are profoundly useful at this stage.  As we become clear and discriminative, we also need a sense of our own personal power to propel forward.

An inevitable and beautiful step in the process is opening to grace, love, compassion for self and others, and gratitude for what remains.  Opening to the transformation also opens us to the possibilities and opportunities that present themselves.

Living a full life means that change and the inevitable suffering around it will come our way.  While most transformational processes feel pretty messy at times, ultimately doing the work of deep inner practice will help us grow and transform.

Mary Hilliker, RDN, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT is a Certified Viniyoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist and Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with 5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness Center and River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School in Wausau WI. Mary offers individualized Yoga Therapy and nutrition counseling. She teaches therapeutic and wellness yoga classes, mini-retreats, workshops, webinars and yoga teacher training.