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The only constant is change: a yoga lesson

This is an excerpt from Guiding Yoga's Light by Nancy Gerstein.

Intention

To illustrate the fact that nothing lasts forever.

Approximate Length

3 minutes

Lesson

The present situation can change in an instant. The yogi stays tranquil and accepts life’s frequent turn of events while knowing that pleasure, pain, good, and bad never last forever.

Here’s a parable that shows how quickly life can turn around.

There once was a farmer who had a magnificent prize-winning stallion. The farmer planned to sell him to a wealthy businessman for a large profit. One week before the horse was to be sold, a hurricane swept through the farmer’s land. It tore down the barn where the horse was kept, and the stallion ran off. "What bad luck!" the farmer’s wife said.

"Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We’ll have to see," said the farmer.

The next week, the farmer and his wife saw a herd of horses galloping toward the farm. It was their stallion, leading four horses behind him. "What good luck!" said the farmer’s wife.

"Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We’ll have to see," said the farmer.

Soon the farmer and his son were training the new horses. One day the son was thrown by one of the horses and broke both his legs. The farmer’s wife was very upset. "My only son! We never should have let those horses in. This is very bad luck," she said.

"Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We’ll have to see," said the farmer.

The next week, soldiers came to the farm. Their king had declared war, and the soldiers were drafting every young man in the country. After seeing that the farmer’s son had two broken legs, the soldiers left him at home. The farmer’s wife was relieved. "Oh, what good luck we have!" she said.

As expected, the farmer said, "Good luck, bad luck, let’s wait and see . . ."

The story illustrates how the farmer was a yogi in his understanding of change, staying detached from life’s ups and downs. Change is the only thing we can be sure of, so why not accept it?

Let’s accept and be thankful for what is true in our bodies and in our minds at this moment on this day. Know that change can be just a breath away.

Asanas for Deepening

Deliberately take your time with these postures, and notice change in all levels of your being. The posture may become much more comfortable for a while (good luck?) then change again (bad luck?)! Notice how the energy of the body continues to change with every breath.

At the start of asana practice, do the reclining hamstring stretch using a strap under the ball of the extended leg or, for the more flexible, the big-toe hold. Do it again at the end of class to feel the difference in the character of your muscles and your energy.

Sit in the over-and-under pose and invite your hips to melt into the earth. Take in the changing sensation. Can you sense softening or resistance?

Navasana (seated boat) will challenge your balance, the temperament of your hamstrings, and your breath.

This is an excerpt from Guiding Yoga’s Light: Lessons for Yoga Teachers.