Life Cycles, Yoga and the Art of Adaptability | Lucy McCarthy



“Change alone is perpetual, eternal, immortal.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860, German philosopher

There are few resolute truths and certainties of the Universe but perhaps one is that ‘everything is impermanent’. Nothing stays the same; everything is constantly changing both within and without and perhaps it is our unease at this uncertainty that creates resistance and suffering in our lives? For many, our time spent in Yogic practices offers some respite to the challenges of daily life and ideally helps us learn how to ride the waves of life without attaching to the outcome. The potential benefits of our practice really depends on our ability to adapt our practice according to what is occurring in our personal life; so our yoga can act as a direct response and medicine to the mental, emotional and physical requirements of the day.However, sometimes we get so drawn into a certain style or pace of a practice that we forget that our practice in an ideal world is nourishment not punishment.

Part of what I find deeply moving and rich in the Yogic cannon is its breadth- the broad multiplicity of practices on offer from this thousands of years old tradition. Some days I have excess energy to burn off and all I need is a dynamic, sweaty practice to find myself feeling more grounded and steady. However, other days I come to my mat with low bodily energy but an overstimulated mind and instead my practice will lead me towards more slow flow, meditative practices of asana, pranayama and meditation.

A few years back it wasn’t like this, my daily practice would be fairly similar day to day as I had an expectation of what I thought it ‘should’ be and sometimes I left practice feel depleted and lacking in nourishment. Surely there was a lesson to be learnt. It came in the form of an older female relative, who I am very dear to, coming to visit and expressing how challenged she was by the onset of Menopause and the disruption this was causing in her daily life. Previously a very active and energetic women who regularly ran, practiced yoga and swam on a daily basis. She now found that her sleep was so disturbed and the hot flushes so full on that sticking to these former habits was very difficult but she resisted letting them go. I asked if she would be willing to experiment with me, changing her routine for just 2 weeks to see if we could find a suitable yoga practice that would help balance and shift her hormones and energy patterns as a response to her current life cycle. She reluctantly agreed and over the next 2 weeks together we developed a daily practice that was more focused on poses (asana) that cultivated a calm, steady nervous system to aid better sleep, cooling pranayamas to help alleviate hot flushes and longer holds of supported inversions such as restorative shoulder stand and plough to help stimulate hormonal balance thru the endocrine system. Amazingly enough after just a week of these practices, she started to sleep well for the first time in over a year and her hot flushes reduced significantly. I then saw her at the end of 2 weeks and she looked quite different, calmer, more relaxed and comfortable in her skin. She said she felt so much better and would continue to practice like this as long as needed. It really bought home the importance of being ‘adaptable’ in both our practice and life in general.

adaptable adjective /əˈdæp.tə.bl̩/ › able or willing to change in order to suit different conditions:

  • able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions:
  • able to adjust to new conditions.

There have been many scientific studies recently about the connection between our ability to be adaptable to the vicissitudes of life and happiness. So after this I slowly started to shift my practice to one that was adapted to my daily mood, energy and hormonal levels and have since found that my yoga practice is nourishing to the needs of the day which has made getting on my mat and it being a truly nourishing, joyous practice a daily occurrence. So whether you are a teenager going thru puberty, on your menstrual cycle, just feeling knackered or dealing with challenging issues in your personal life then perhaps experiment with taking 5 minutes at the beginning of practice lying quietly and asking, seeking out what it is you truly need from your practice that day and listen and honour the inner guidance you get back, it might just change your practice and life!

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react.”
– John C Maxwell, 1947-, American author and motivational speaker 

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change”
– Charles Darwin

MFML - Lucy

Join Lucy on Retreat this summer!

SUMMER YOGA RETREAT IN SOUTHERN SPAIN  Yoga Retreat with Lucy Bruegger in Santa Lucia, Spain, June 8th-15th 2014 I am delighted to announce that I have been asked to teach on a week-long boutique RETREAT of yoga, sun, sea and relaxation in the natural, beautiful secluded spot of Santa Lucía in Southern Spain.

To practice with Lucy right now – click here


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