What Yoga Taught Me About Adaptability
DateJune 14, 2017
I’ve moved countries five times in my life. Ironically, though, it was through being still in yoga that I learned about adaptability.
There are days I can happily fold myself into a pretzel, or move into a side crow with minimal effort. And then there are days where I go into downward dog, and I struggle to even plant my heels into the mat. When I first started practicing, this inconsistency frustrated the sh*t out of me. I’d mumble “wtf” to myself under my breath as I awkwardly tried to force my body into something that I knew that it could do.
Truth is, we’ve been conditioned to find comfort in consistency. So much so that when change or something unpredictable occurs, we tailspin into a place of anger, self loathing, self blame, etc. But change is the most natural thing in the world – just look at the seasons. Look at how we’ve evolved. Resistance to change only leads to suffering.
As adults, we become so hard on ourselves, and we bully ourselves with doubt and insecurity. Something a teacher said to me once that has really stuck with me, is that it’s important to treat our mind like a child. Not in a condescending way of course, but with the gentleness, patience and kindness that we would show to a child. Practicing this is so helpful in staying lighthearted not just in yoga or meditation, but in everyday life.
Please don’t mistake adaptability as apathy – it’s kind of a paradox, but as soon as you let go of the need to control everything that happens around you, the more control you have over your own reactions, impulses, and emotions. Have you ever overreacted or lost your temper in a situation, only to feel completely embarrassed just seconds later? Yoga’s ability to connect the mind with the body is a perfect practice for staying calm and strong, and acting consciously.
Learning to adapt means knowing that the bad times won’t last, so don’t dwell or feel stuck in them. That said, the good times don’t last either, so embrace them while you can but understand that things can – and will – change, and that it’s ok that they do.
You’ll have more money some days than others. Something you’ve been planning for months may completely fall through. Or as mentioned before, your body will be stronger and more flexible some days than others. Finding adaptability in our bodies allows us to understand and embrace external changes that occur.
Whether it’s a new job, a new country, a new relationship – adapting is never easy. When you’re removed from what you know, everything that once nurtured you, when you’re stripped of sycophants and support, all that’s left is yourself. No crutch for your limp self esteem, no scratching post for moments of weakness or insecurity. You’re forced to face and get to know yourself – flaws and all.
It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and angry at the world. What’s hard is to be kind and patient with yourself, to take the lessons in humility as an opportunity to evolve. Strength and character – like steel – is forged in fire. It’s up to you whether you choose to burn out or to ignite.