The ending of summer has historically felt rather exciting to me. When I was younger, it always meant back to school—which was a time filled with laughter, nervousness, and a chance to go learn new things. When I was in college, the end of summer was bittersweet—it meant leaving my family, but also going on an adventure. Now, with a fairly stable schedule, no more school, and no children of my own, the ending of summer feels . . . strange. Like there’s no real change coming. And I think that’s what I loved most about the end of summer; change.
We talk a lot in yoga about how our practice helps us be okay with change. We elaborate on how yoga keeps our minds calm and our nervous systems relaxed so that change is less stressful, less hazardous to our health, and less distasteful. Which are all wonderful things! But what about when we want change? When we desire to be moved . . . and yet nothing seems to be transforming around us? Yoga, then, teaches us patience. How to weather out not the storm, but the drought. To be okay with the stillness. To be okay with the lack of rain.
As the end of summer approaches, I am noticing other lives changing around me—the teens and kids I teach are chattering excitedly (or rather unexcitedly, depending on the person) about school supplies, and friends, and new teachers. The weather is just beginning to turn. My little sister is preparing for a trip to Tahiti for a two-year hiatus from school. And yet—life for me seems to be still. These are the times when I talk more with my dad—because his summers do not bring change for him, either. With my mom passed away and his job the same it’s been for twenty years, his life has seemed to still itself, too. He copes by talking to his children and keeping his hands busy around the house. I cope through yoga.
When we step onto our mats and begin the asanas, or poses, we begin to feel change within our bodies. This, for me, brings the metamorphosis I so desperately crave even if the reality of life does not seem to be moving. Flow, movement, strength, flexibility—everything the asanas bring to us transform us. So no matter what is going on in our lives, yoga gives us those things our bodies and minds most desperately need. The transformative power of yoga floods us with rain, even when the drought seems to be surrounding us, washing away the dirt and dust of stillness and giving us the bounty of health: body, mind, and spirit. That’s what it’s giving me, at this crossroads between summer and fall.
How will yoga transform you? Find a sheet of paper or something to write on and set an intention physically down on that paper. Read it. Become familiar with it. And then every time you step on your mat, let that intention guide your practice. After one week, come back to that paper. How has your life changed in accordance with that intention? If you want more transformation, you choose–stick with the same intention or expand upon it. Focus for one more week, and then again come back to that paper. Contemplate the metamorphosis that is coming to life within your body and mind. See how things can change, one small step at a time! And if this works for you, let this ritual guide your practice. Find peace and contentment in working through small and simple changes. And then let life unfold before you!