Yoga for Uncertainty

Last weeks theme in yoga was uncertainty.

One thing is certain, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world.

The people who will survive and thrive through these changes, are the people who understand a simple, yet complicated reality:

The only things in life that are guaranteed, are death and change.

I live in a city where under these current circumstances, uncertainty is swirling around in the air. I can feel it. I live in a city because I like the noise, the diverse crowds, access to amazing food, culture, and theatre. But recently, during my morning walk, I was awakened to an uncertainty I didn’t think I’d ever see in a busy city.

The city was quiet – almost silent.

I walked over to one of my favorite gardens and was met with isolation. In what was once a bustling green space full of people chatting and the sound of fountains creating a soothing environment, it was now mostly empty. The only people there were the ones standing in the food line. Something else I’ve never seen in this public park.

In some ways it was very peaceful. In others it was disquieting.

The uncertainty of not knowing if the city will ever wake up, made me look at the rest of my walk differently.

I enjoyed crossing streets without the fear of being flattened, but missed the hustle and bustle of moving cars navigating confusing city streets.

I walked past a beautiful historic church, its doors closed and steps empty on a day that should have been full of rejoicing.

I noticed the museums, also shuttered from the unseen devastation, uncertain of their future vitality, their viability brought down by something smaller than our brains could understand and our eyes could see.

I walked through a park once full of small voices happily screeching for parents to push them higher. Wondering if the parks new inhabitants would be human, plant material or rodents.

My morning walk made me think about the theme of my yoga class.

Yoga teaches there are choices when faced with uncertainty.

One thing glorious about human beings, is their ability to adapt. When hanging upside down in Downward Dog, our perspective literally changes. To add complexity, you have no idea what the teacher is going to ask you to do next. So you have to literally go with the flow.

There’s a lot of literally in yoga. Living in a literal state insists that you stay in the literal present moment. You have to pay attention to NOW. Right NOW. Because in the exact moment you are practicing yoga, on the mat is the only moment that matters. If your head leaves the game, you fall, you lose track of where you are, you get distracted. You ruminate.

One of the big lessons of yoga is paying attention – or being present to what is. Not what you want it to be. It’s not about what’s going to happen when you leave, you have no control over that other than knowing the directions home.

You have to be.

Right where you are.

As a yoga teacher, I like to ask my students to stand on one foot and balance. While balancing, I then ask them to think about a worry they have, or look around the room to distract themselves. Without fail, they wobble and usually fall. The only ones left standing are the ones who know my trick.

Worrying creates instability. Mentally and physically. It’s a physical and mental lesson.

Uncertainty is a given in life. We all face it.

There are plenty of things to worry about. Why do we go looking for more things that give us anxiety? We will all face struggle as we progress through life’s maze.

But we each get to choose how to wander the path. Do you do it ruminating and worrying about things that might not happen? Do you project failure and walls you will need to climb that aren’t really there? Or can you project an image of a future you want to see? Which image feels better to you?

Even with all the uncertainty my walk exposed me to, I know the future will be what it is. I only hope I can adapt and change to make it what I want.

I’ve been teaching yoga for over a decade. I currently teach online. If you are interested in learning skills to help you navigate uncertainty and change, send me an email.

Maybe together we can create a balance between what was, and the quiet of what can be.

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