Dealing with Change

Dealing with Change

Embracing Change Through Yoga and Pranayama - By Mandala Yoga Ashram

Reading time: 4 minutes

Change is part of the fabric of the universe, yet in many ways, we resist change, even if it is to our benefit. We hold on to our fixed attitudes and lifestyles, even if they are no longer necessary, valid, or appropriate.

On the yogic path, we are advised to embrace change by letting go of things we no longer need: outdated belief systems, unhealthy foods, activities which are detrimental to our health and things which prevent us living a more joyful and meaningful life of greater understanding and awareness.

We don’t need to give up on life, or our passion for life and friends, but to let go of those things which have passed their sell-by date. The more we de-clutter our life, the more space there is for new vistas of experience, understanding and awakening.

When we die, we will have to let go of everything anyway. So let us make the most of life, now, by letting go of those things which keep us ruminating on the past and unable to appreciate the present moment. By letting go of our attachment to the familiar and the known, we open up to undreamed possibilities and potential.

Letting go also means letting go of our unquestioned exclusive identification with our individual personality, allowing us to re-identify with what we are in Essence. And, from an advaitic (non-dual), spiritual perspective, who are we to let go? Surely ‘letting go’ happens by itself, at the right time, as a flowering of the evolutionary process in all of us!

Swami Nishchalananda

Adjusting to change

The world is constantly changing and that is no different at the ashram. Despite this, we often struggle with change in our life. Often we are trying to hold on to the past to retain some imaginary semblance of control, whether that be changes in relationships, employment, where we live, children growing up, starting a new family or ending a long term relationship. Feeling anxious and stressed during times of change and uncertainty is very common. It can feel overwhelming.

Ironically, it is only through changing ourselves that we can remain grounded through life’s transitions. When we start feeling a lack of control, our natural instinct is to reassert control in any way we can.

That’s why, when confronted with substantial change, you’ll likely find yourself tightening your grip on whatever reality you feel you’re about to lose. With change, often there’s something you’re losing, but we usually have to lose something to make space for the new to enter.

Pranayama practice to support us through times of change

As we move through the continuous fluctuations of life and the world around us the breath can remain the one constant in this physically manifesting world; it is with us from the moment we leave our mothers womb until we depart this body at the time of death. Simply watching the breath can allow us to come back to the present moment.

By watching and encouraging a deeper, longer exhalation we can develop a sense of letting go. With each exhalation, we can feel the release of physical tension but also be open to the release of negativity thoughts and emotions. We can also develop a sense of letting go of all in life that is no longer useful to us, such as old thoughts and ideas, attachments to people places and belongings.

The following practice can be done anywhere and at any time. Working with this simple practice at various times during each day can encourage an attitude of letting go and acceptance in all aspects of life.

Watch the natural breath, breathing in and out.

As you watch, notice how after a few breaths the rhythm changes and begins to deepen and lengthen.

Continue to watch and feel how the breath starts to relax. At this point you may become aware of the ujjayi breath (the psychic throat breath) the natural sound of the breath in the throat like a cat purring or gentle snoring.

Then begin to lengthen the exhalation, allowing it to become longer than the inhalation. Continue in this way until the exhalation feels twice the length of the inhalation. You can count the length of the breath if that is helpful, or you might just want to sense it.

After some time become aware of the natural pause at the end of the exhalation before the body is ready to breathe in once more. Don't force the pause, just watch how it naturally arises. Be with the space at the end of the exhalation. Allow yourself to surrender to and rest in that space.

Continue as time allows and then let go of the practice and return to the natural rhythm of breath.

Mandala Yoga Ashram

Mandala Yoga Ashram is a renowned centre of yogic studies located in Wales, UK, offering residential retreats and online courses.