“In the waves of change we find our true direction.”
Change isn’t always easy to navigate. It can sometimes leave you feeling jittery in the stomach, tight in the chest and apprehensive about the future. Change can stir old wounds and deep emotions, crippling you from moving forward.
Yet beyond these fear-based emotions and past experiences (samskaras), change is an opportunity to grow.
So how, when you are faced with anxiety and nervousness, can you see that perhaps the jittery feeling in your stomach may just be excitement? How can you use your yoga practice to flow through change, rather than resist it?
6 Yoga Poses to flow through change
1. Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Change (and by nature – uncertainty) can often feel unsettling, and the place in the body where this is most strongly experienced is the stomach. Twisting poses relieve tension in the stomach and cleanse not only the digestive system but also the emotional body.
Revolved Triangle Pose also relieves tension in the hamstrings. Metaphysically our legs carry us forward in life, so relieving tension in the legs enables us to move through change.
What beliefs are holding you back and preventing you from moving forward?
2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II is also known as the Peaceful Warrior – a balance of inner strength and softness. Transitioning through change requires gentle yielding as well as focus. With the gaze in the direction of your future, you keep the focus on where you are going.
3. Camel (Ustrasana)
Another attribute of navigating change is an open heart. To embark in a new direction, where the outcome is unknown, requires a courageous and trusting heart. Camel Pose (pictured above) relieves tension in the lower back (the place of our fears) and opens the chest and heart.
This pose also helps to relieve anxiety, that is often felt as tightness in the chest and shallow breathing.
As you exhale back into Camel, continue taking deep full breaths and imagine your chest expanding and opening and the breath traveling all the way down to the base of your belly.
Another benefit of Camel Pose is hip opening; hips being the metaphysical storage area of our emotions.
4. Wide Legged Forward Fold (Straddle/Dragonfly)
This pose grounds the Base/Root Chakra (Muladhara), connecting you with stability and firm foundations. Sometimes change can feel like a whirlwind; particularly if the change is fast-moving. Literally bringing the body back down to Earth helps to re-establish your connection and feel grounded.
Being a yin posture, it’s also about letting go physically, which can also help you to let go on deeper levels. Change sometimes requires you to let go of resistance, previously held beliefs, control and emotions that you hold in your body as physical tension. In this pose, all you need to do is surrender, and breathe – long, deep, slow breaths.
5. Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Reclining Butterfly is another heart opener of the nurturing kind. It’s easier to open your heart when you feel supported, and a bolster positioned along the spine gives you a feeling of stability and security. From that foundation let your arms rest on the mat beside your body and open your chest.
As with Camel Pose, it has the added benefit of opening the hips. If the hip opening is too strong, place supportive bolsters/blocks under each knee. Taking support in your yoga practice is a reminder to do this in daily life too.
What support do you need to help you through this change?
6. Child Pose (Balasana)
Change can often result in expending emotional energy that can be draining and exhausting. Child Pose is a gentle resting pose that enables you to take your awareness within and restore energy. If your body needs to rest – let it. In Child Pose, you can also ground your Third-eye Chakra (Ajna) to the Earth (or a bolster/block) and connect with your intuition.
Child Pose is also about being still. In the midst of change there is a time for action and a time for being. Whatever comes up in this stillness, let it come and go, passing through you like changing winds.
Nature Connect in times of change
There are many lessons in nature that teach us about change. Seasons change, tides rise and fall, the sun rises and sets, fire destroys landscapes and then they renew.
Many months ago I sat by the Bay and watched the full moon tide lash the embankment…
Seaweed piles up against the cement retaining wall and salt spray slaps, as if the sea is getting rid of all it’s sludge and heaviness. Nature doesn’t care that it’s windy; throwing the stillness of the bay off balance and churning up her sea depths. Nature is all of these things. She simply lulls herself to the meditative rhythm of an ebbing and flowing tide.
Spend some time in nature observing. Notice how nature changes over the course of a day, a week and perhaps seasons. Nature is always changing.
Meditation for change
A simple meditation I like to use in times of change is visualising myself once the change has taken place. I begin with a visualisation of leaving a suitcase behind. In the suitcase are all the things/thoughts I need to leave behind in order to move towards that new destination.
What do you need to shed, to move forward?
Then I visualise myself walking towards this new destination. For me, it’s always along a forest path, beside a gentle flowing stream.
At the end of the path I arrive.
In this “new life”, ask yourself – Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? How do you feel?
Imagery is powerful. This meditation helps to keep you focused on the positive outcomes of the change you are moving through.
Take your time
Change is a process of shedding old layers of being, moving into a place of trust, transitioning out of the old and finally arriving at your new destination.
Throughout the process of your change, spend some time alone to check in with how you’re feeling and to give yourself space to simply be.
If you feel resistance, enquire about what you are resisting and why. Is your resistance based on current reality? Or is it based on previous experiences that you are using as a filter for the way you see your current situation?
Approaching change with self-inquiry, an open heart and kindness to yourself, will enable you to flow through change, rather than resist it.
Susan is the founder and Yoga Teacher at Wild Places Yoga – a nature inspired yoga studio in Brisbane’s Bayside.