Embracing Transformation on Your Mat and Beyond
You’re Perfect Just as You Are. Now Change.
Have you noticed a paradox at the heart of modern yoga’s rhetoric? We are often told that yoga will help us accept ourselves as we are right now, but, at the same time, foster transformation, presumably into something better. Is it even possible to be perfect in our current form and in desperate need of change at the exact same time? Practising yoga helps us see that yes, we can reconcile both truths: radical self-acceptance and perpetual transformation. Or, in other words, the perfect state of being is one that is always changing.
If you want to get a clearer look, do more yoga. Do it every day or every few days. Do it for years. Do it on your own, do it with others.
Change Is a Constant
The first step towards embracing transformation is to acknowledge that change is a constant. Everything is in a perpetual state of flux, even the things that seem most stable. From the macroscopic (the universe) to the microscopic (our cells), from the global (climate) to the local (the bus schedule) to the extremely local (the fruit on the counter top, rapidly moving toward entropy).
The same goes for people. We are continually confronted with new situations, some of which seem to be to our advantage and some of which don’t. We can’t control most of the changes we encounter but we can work on managing our reactions to them, on maintaining internal equanimity in the face of external upheaval. Yoga gives us a training ground for how to handle change and perhaps even to claim the power to induce transformation for ourselves.
Transforming Bodies and Minds
When you do yoga regularly, the first transformations you see will probably be physical in nature. Your body gets stronger and simultaneously more flexible. Your balance improves. As you continue to practise, poses that seemed impossible become possible. However, not all progress is linear. You may stall out on that one pose you’ve been trying. So part of the mental yoga is figuring out how to be ok with that. How to relinquish a goal-oriented mindset and allow yourself to just be where you are. To become happy with what you have instead of needing the constant thrill of the new to keep you engaged.
Eventually, you begin to find joy in attempting poses that you once feared, not for the sake of the poses themselves but in recognition of the improbable journey that doing yoga has led your body. The flexibility you’ve cultivated in your body starts to sneak into your mind. You’ve seen change and reacted positively.
Want More Change? Do More Yoga
The amount of yoga you do is proportional to the amount of transformation (more yoga = more change). Do a little yoga here and there and you might begin to see a glimmer of what is possible come into your peripheral vision. If you want to get a clearer look, do more yoga. Do it every day or every few days. Do it for years. Do it on your own, do it with others. Do it at home, do it in classes, do it on vacation, do it in your office. Find the style, the teacher, the tribe, that speaks to you and go all in.
You’re not the person you were when you started. You’re perfect now for this moment and when the next change comes, you’ll be perfect for that moment too. From the laboratory of your yoga mat, you move into the world. You welcome transformation as your natural habitat.