This post was originally posted on Finding Isvara.
I have always heard that yoga will change you. Actually, many things can change you, a new baby, a relationship, a new job or an experience. Some changes are evident and other times you don’t realize you have changed until much later.
Sometimes change is very slow, like watching a baby grow. The daily changes are very small, unnoticeable even. But after a year, your once new-born is now a walking toddler who will continue to change, grow and evolve.
Change can also be forced upon you. My mother passed away when I was eleven. Many things changed suddenly from one day to the next, with no warnings or time to prepare for it. This experience has affected me, I am sure, in many ways; in more ways than I realize. I know it is the reason for many decisions I've made and how I choose to raise my children.
Sometimes I am aware of changes I want to make, and I know which new habits to adopt to achieve them. A couple years ago I noticed that every night I was always rushing around trying to get everything done and went to bed feeling exhausted. I knew what change had to be made; I needed to let go of the idea of perfection and ask for some help. Since then, chores have been assigned! Evenings are more relaxed and everyone feels like a contributing member of our family.
Within my yoga practice, I sometimes work to achieve certain goals. I may be working on developing more strength or flexibility, healing an injury or finding new ways to bring more awareness into my practice. These changes often spill over into other areas and I don’t realize it until much later, so change happens even when I’m not trying. Over the past few months, I've been working to heal an injury in my right shoulder, which has brought much more awareness into my practice. Alignment, breath, and my limits are always present on and off my mat.
There are other more subtle and internal changes I’ve noticed, too. Some of my beliefs and the way I solve or approach problems have changed over time. Could these internal changes be the “transformations” I’ve heard about? They affect how I relate to others and myself. These transformations are more than just sticking to certain habits. They're about knowing on a deep internal level what it is you need to do, with no questions about it. I have noticed I am less critical of others and myself. I’ve also stopped taking things personally because ultimately everyone is living their own life and doing what they need to do. It has taken me quite some time to realize this.
And other times, I work on change even though I see very little progress, but I have faith it will happen. Each day I sit still and breathe; I call it meditating. Most days my thoughts are all over the place, mulling over everything I have to do. Anyone watching me meditate would think I’m calm, disciplined, and focused, in control of my thoughts and emotions. That is not completely true, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. The phrase fake it until you make it, comes to mind.
You don’t always have to achieve each and every one of your goals for change to occur, I believe it will happen if you keep trying and working for it. Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the most impact and trigger other changes to take place.
When I look back to when I started practicing yoga, I can see the physical changes in my body, the knowledge I have gained and how my practice has evolved. All these aspects and much more will continue to evolve over time because growth and change never stop.
Be aware of where you are now, constantly check in with yourself and most importantly do not give up.