Whether you embrace change with open arms or tend to run a million miles in the opposite direction, you can’t avoid it indefinitely. Some changes are foisted upon us while we kick and scream in protest like a petulant child. Other changes creep up on us without us even noticing.
Many of us feel like we’ve had more than our fill of change over the last 15 months and can’t wait to get back to “normal.” Certain changes, such as the need to wear masks, while inconvenient have been bearable. But many have experienced heartbreak, major loss and hardship that simply can not be reversed by a government ruling.
I myself have experienced more major changes to my life in the past 15 months than at any other time in my life. If there was such a thing as Life Overhaul Bingo, I think I’d have scored a full house by now and would be flapping my (admittedly modest) bingo wings calling for my prize.
Some of these changes I did not ask for or particularly want: hello perimenopause. Others came about due to decisions I made but not necessarily out of a positive choice, but because I felt I had to, such as the closure of my Yoga studio.
Change is rarely easy, it’s unsettling and takes us out of our comfort zone where many of us would rather not be. That’s why we’ve all been living in leggings and trackies, why be uncomfortable when you can be comfortable? Of course sometimes we put up with certain situations because we simply don’t know how to improve things or because the alternatives seem so daunting. That’s why many people stay in jobs or relationships that suck all the joy out of their soul.
All the changes I have experienced and witnessed during the pandemic prompted some major soul searching on my part, which in turn lead me to undertake some pretty major decisions. One of those decisions was to change career again and retrain as a secondary school teacher. The reaction has been mostly positive with a few people describing me as “so brave” as if I’ve been diagnosed with a life limiting illness or volunteered to enter a towering inferno and put out the fire single handedly.
I definitely feel apprehensive about the challenges that lie ahead and know it won’t be easy but am comforted by the knowledge that I’m taking control of my own destiny and doing something which feels right for me at this point in my life. I’ve wanted to work more with children and young people for years but I didn’t choose to embark on this new path because I’ve had enough of Yoga. I love teaching Yoga and it will always be a huge part of my life, in fact if it wasn’t for my Yoga practice I really don’t know I would have navigated my way though the last year or so with my sanity more or less in tact.
If the truth be known, however, I’ve definitely fallen out of love with certain aspects of the Yoga industry, if in fact I was ever in love with them in the first place. The frankly vain posturing on Instagram by scantily clad contortionists presented as Yoga; the obsession with “advanced” asana practice that leads to so many avoidable injuries; the studios and Yoga schools that churn out inexperienced Yoga teachers like a sausage factory; the ridiculously over priced leggings and mats. Those are things I won’t miss so much in my new life as a trainee school teacher (although some of those leggings are pretty comfy).
Throughout the pandemic I have of course missed teaching all my wonderful and supportive regulars in person although I will continue to teach a reduced timetable online. One of the most rewarding aspects of what I do is seeing people’s progress and witnessing that outpouring of euphoria when they finally get into a pose they have been struggling with. The buzz I get from teaching Yoga comes from giving people the tools to help themselves feel better, to hopefully find greater self acceptance and work towards their true potential. Thankfully that’s something I hope to be able to continue to do in my new career. Although as an English teacher I will be endeavouring to inspire a love of literature rather than a love of mindful movement and meditation. But who knows, maybe I will get my students to practice the occasional Vrksasana (tree pose) to help their concentration or teach them Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril) breathing to help them when they get stressed.
Because that’s the point for me, Yoga shouldn’t be something that’s only accessible to a chosen, privileged few. You might be able to do a mean Astavakrasana (Eight limbed pose) but if you explode every time the person in front of you takes too long at the till or you don’t treat others with kindness then you have no right to look down on people who struggle to touch their toes. Yoga is a way of being, of guiding you through life’s peaks and troughs, not a means to getting a six pack or more likes on social media.
If the pandemic hadn’t happened maybe I’d still be running my little studio but I truly believe that change happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately obvious. So I’m embracing all the changes in my life, yes even the perimenopause (although I view it bit like the unpopular relative that always brings up Brexit at family gatherings - tolerated but not top of my Christmas card list) and looking forward to an exciting future. A future where Yoga might have to to move out of the spotlight a bit but will still be an essential part of my life. I know that no matter how busy my schedule as a full time student and single mum gets, I’ll still find a way to fit in Yoga. It might be more like 10 minutes of mindful breathing a day rather than an hour of asana practice but it will still be the faithful friend I always turn to in times of need.
So as I prepare to take a break over the summer to recharge my batteries for the adventure which lies ahead, I hope that you too will continue to practice and look forward to seeing you online, even if it’s less frequently, from September.
This is not the end, just a new chapter. Hopefully it will be a real page turner.