Yoga can help us navigate life’s cycles without becoming attached to one outcome. Read on to find how MFML yoga teacher Lucy McCarthy uses adaptability as a daily practice.
There are few resolute truths and certainties of the Universe but perhaps one is that ‘everything is impermanent’. For many, our time doing yoga offers some respite to the challenges of daily life. Yoga can help us to learn how to ride life’s cycles without attaching to the outcome. The potential benefits of yoga depends on our ability to adapt our practice according to what we need. In this way yoga can act as a direct response. Medicine, if you like, to the mental, emotional and physical requirements of the day. Sometimes we forget to focus on what we need rather than what we want as we become attached to a particular style or pace of practicing yoga.
What do we mean by Adaptable?
adaptable adjective /ədæp.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.
Adaptability and daily practice
Yoga offers a multiplicity of practices developed over thousands of years of tradition, practice and exploration of the human condition. Some days I have excess energy to burn off. On those days 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. My practice will then lead me towards more slow flow, meditative practices of asana, pranayama and meditation. A few years ago my daily practice would be fairly similar day to day. I had an expectation of what I thought practice ‘should’ be. This meant that sometimes I ended my practice feeling depleted not energised.
Listening to what your body needs during different life cycles
When an older female relative came to visit, she told me how challenging she found the onset of Menopause and how much it was disrupting her daily routine. She had previously been very active and ran regularly and 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.
Using yoga as a way to support life’s cycles
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 helped me recognise the importance of being ‘adaptable’ in both our practice and life in general.
It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to changeCharles Darwin
Connecting adaptability, life’s cycles and happiness
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.
Tune in to change how you feel
If you are a teenager going through puberty, on your menstrual cycle, just feeling knackered or dealing with challenging issues in your personal life try 5 minutes at the beginning of practice to take stocky. Lie quietly and ask yourself 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!
Lucy will be offering soothing practices as a part of our Women’s Wellbeing course.
About Lucy McCarthy:
Lucy McCarthy discovered yoga on a rooftop in India and hasn’t looked back since. After studying Hatha Yoga in India, Lucy trained with Max Strom. Lucy now has over a thousand hours of training under her belt and she teaches mindful, breath and alignment focussed flow yoga. Lucy places an emphasis on the practice as a healing and transformative sanctuary in our lives. Her classes inspire, uplift and provoke curiosity.