Impermanence and My Yoga Practice

Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.

Judith Lasater

Here goes.

I am a big believer in speaking truth and since I have opted to being more emotionally exposed this year and vulnerable I am jumping in.

Since having three hip surgeries and an ankle surgery I have been avoiding the physical aspect of yoga for over six years. Occasionally I might unroll a mat and move around in positions that feel good, but a full on yoga practice guided by someone else?

Never. I have told myself for years that my practice was not focused on the physical and that I was simply working the other aspects of Yoga.

Was I? Or was I avoiding the sensations that bring up uncomfortable? Had I slipped into the practice of resistance or even worse, avoidance?

Maybe the continual orthopedic challenges over the last six years are valid or maybe it is my reasoning or excuse, or simply the story I tell myself. Unpeeling the layers of truth and excuse began to unravel quickly this past weekend on the Yoga mat.

With great intention to have at least one guided solid practice a week, I opted for Sunday to be the day. Sundays are typically a little slower around my house and seems to have a little tinge of sacredness on this day. I wanted to have someone else guide me through a practice because I tend to flow into poses that I like and are rarely challenged by. I stay within my comfort zone and was being gently nudged to open myself up to receive a practice guided by someone else and for me to not have any idea of what would be offered.

As I went out to my studio my eyes longed for the dumbbells that sat there eyeing me and my newly defined muscles. I wanted to grab them and do my thirty minutes of weight training that gives me a sense of strength and empowerment. I yearned for the fast 45 second on/15 second rest pace where I watch the time pass with eagerness to move onto the next exercise, or finish and get back on the whirling of the treadmill. I craved the fast and powerful movements where time flies.

Weight lifting has become my jam.

My Yoga practice used to be that. It was also where I laid out my emotions, my grief, my struggles, my celebrations and every other emotional season of my life. It is truly where I loved being and lifting weights was my aversion. As I continued to struggle with pain I needed a new relationship with my body and weights found a home in my heart. I even wrote about it here.

I knew I needed to work through my resistance to Yoga. I began the practice and literally within five minutes I was fighting myself to not quit. Every pose offered I had the internal dialogue as to why I hated it and why I can’t do it. I argued with myself. I made up a million reasons as to why this sucked. I wondered about half way through the practice why anyone would choose to do this and even more PAY for it. I heard myself say utter the words, “I hate Yoga and anyone who does this nonsense for 60 minutes must be crazy”. I fought the feelings of tightness and the humility of forward folds hurting and some of the postures being completely beyond my what I thought was available to my seeminlgy strong body. I glanced at my weights with love and endearment and thought to myself–they don’t hurt me like this.. they love me. I wrestled with the endless about of space and time in a single pose. I fought back quitting and then the realization that I was feeling this way was as shocking as the language my body was speaking. When the final moment came and the teacher thanked me for sharing my practice with her I wanted to scream “never again biiiiiiatcccch”.

I rolled up my mat completely stunned at my reaction to a simple 30 minute practice. Prior to my hip surgeries I was practicing hour long classes four to five times a week for a nearly two decades. What happened? How could I — a full time yoga teacher — feel such angst to time on the mat? I felt so much like I was an illegitimate English teacher who never opened a book.


I was shocked at what was coming up for me. These were deep feelings fueled with emotion that I can buried beneath surgical recoveries, a new found love affair with strength training and my seemingly inability to be still, and more be still with myself.

I am still one week later still stunned. And humbled. And determined to look deeper at this.

Judith Lasater says, “Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.” I suppose this master of Yoga would include time on the mat with this statement.

Oftentimes, we can no longer practice certain poses because of age or injury, yet we feel agitated because we assume that the poses of our youth should be the poses of our middle and old age. We are surprised when familiar asanas become difficult and formerly difficult ones become impossible. This surprise emotion rattled me and when I spoke to a fellow Yoga teacher I was relieved to learn that she too experiences much of the same resistance to time on the mat, for many of the same reasons. The inherent acknowledgement of the impermanence of each stage of life is key to acceptance both on and off the mat. There is here in this awareness—not just because our lives do obviously and unavoidably change but, more important, because when we accept this fact as truth, we suffer so much less. Without having an awareness of impermanence, we typically fall into one of two patterns: denial or depression.

So what do I do with this? Deny it or become depressed.

Neither are an option for me, especially since I am a master at discipline and overcoming hard things. I choose to not deny the ever changing qualities to my body and my constantly evolving practice, and I also choose to not be depressed about it.

Instead I am going to roll out my Yoga mat and try again. And again. And again until I fall into that sweet spot of surrender that once lovingly welcomed me into her arms.

Follow me for more goodness!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s