Relocation. Job loss. New child. Divorce. Old reliable car gone kaput. Life transitions can hit hard, and unexpectedly. After a year of torturous commutes into the city, my husband and I recently decided to sell our condo and relocate.
Time to say adios to my peaceful yoga room, Ganesha mural, yoga mats, and chalk-art wall full of inspirational quotes, and hello to broken routines, unexpected schedule changes, and fewer opportunities to get on the mat. So long, precious yoga flow!
After five moves in as many years (including one across the country), however, I've discovered it is indeed critical to maintain a yoga practice in crazy times. Doing so can enhance your practice in surprising ways.
So before you kick the mat aside in frustration, consider the following as motivation to keep your awesome asana intact.
1. You’ll face the transition with grace, and refrain from cursing at your cats.
My adorable kitties make a lot of noise when their daily quota of hugs isn’t met. But as long as I’m practicing yoga, especially during big life changes, I somehow manage to find time and patience to snuggle up with my felines and keep from losing my temper.
Tip: Count breaths instead of minutes on a clock. Accept that during a big transition, you aren’t going to get the lengthy sessions on the mat you’re accustomed to, and that’s okay.
Even 15 minutes of daily practice can make a huge difference in bringing about calmness and joy. Know that you can always lengthen your practice sessions when circumstances settle.
2. You’ll flow into unchartered territory.
Here’s your chance to get out of that yoga rut!
Not being able to practice at the studio or time of day you normally do can be new and interesting if you allow it to be. Maybe the only way to fit a practice in is by rolling a mat out in the narrow hallway, where the risk of whacking a light fixture or kicking over a plant runs high.
I had to do this during a past relocation, and the surprise result was a stronger sense of how to sequence crowded classes, not to mention an opportunity to develop more grace in my transitions.
If financial constraints are ruling out your favorite studio, maybe that nearby donation class is worth considering. This could be an opportunity to develop new friendships, or just the push you need to start a home practice.
Tip: Treat your mat as an empty canvas—free of expectations or planned sequences—and allow yourself to simply move. You’ll charter new territory and develop mechanisms to handle whatever life throws at you.
3. You’ll get clear on what your body and soul really need.
Practicing amidst a life transition is guaranteed to bring up all sorts of sensations—both physical and emotional.
The stiffness in my lower back that refused to subside during a past breakup, for instance, helped me recognize I was trying too hard to pretend everything was okay. It only took a few practices during that painful time to realize I needed to reach out to family and friends for support. Powerful insight gained from the mat.
Tip: Emphasize grounding postures like Downward Facing Dog, Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend, and Half Pigeon to cultivate a sense of stability and connection to the earth.
4. You’ll appreciate the simple things.
Time on the mat during a life transition feels like such a gift when in limited supply.
Give yourself the gift of yoga and appreciate every precious breath, reach, and twist you take. Then take Savasana or Corpse Pose and thank yourself for committing to your practice!
Have you experienced massive life changes that seemed to stand between you and your practice? What techniques did you employ to soldier on and keep practicing as you weathered your personal storm?