Changing Patterns–This topic has been a big theme lately and I have long wanted to share some thoughts with everyone. A couple of interesting events surfaced in my life in the past few months and I have not really paused and taken a deep breath.

As these events unfolded, I noticed a lot of changes and shifts taking place within me and around me. But what has been most noticeable are the changes in my body through a deeper and more reflective practice of both Yoga and Pilates. Our body is made to move and the more we move intelligently and with more awareness and consciousness, the more IN TUNE we are to the changes it is undergoing. Our bodies are constantly evolving with time and age.

It may gain strength and flexibility in areas where you never had strength and flexibility, or it may lose mobility in areas where you previously had a lot of range of motion. And at the same time, our thoughts and environment are constantly evolving around us too. The world in which we live is constantly changing and the way we exercise also help shape the way we perceive the outside world and vice versa.

Changing Patterns–Changing Events

As the outside world throws curve balls at you, how do you deal with them? What takes place in your body while you are coping with these challenges? The more I noticed my body is changing, the more I noticed the way I perceive things in the external world is changing.

I guess my point really is- have you noticed if you are still moving the way you have been for the past several years, always sticking to a certain pattern of movement, a certain pattern of thinking. Have you been doing the same set of exercises or practicing your Yoga and/or Pilates the same way you have been because it is what you think you body prefers or it is what you feel comfortable doing? Or have these movements evolved and changed over time?

Changing Patterns–Avoid Feeling Trapped

Many of us at some point often felt “stuck” in our lives; doing the same job for years, having the same responsibilities all the time, feeling we don’t really have the choices and options to do anything else other than what we have been doing all our lives, feeling we are moving further and further away from our dreams. When we feel we are limited in our choices in life, notice if you are always feeling if you are limited in the way your body feels. When you feel stuck in places in your body where you can’t seem to connect and get an awareness of, notice what pattern of thinking are you in at that present moment?

Do you feel trapped at work or in a relationship you can’t get out of, do you feel trapped because you don’t have the courage to take a leap of faith and take some risks to make a radically different kind of decision? When you feel courageous about doing a headstand away from the wall and succeed in doing so, how does that affect your thoughts and perceptions for the rest of the day and/or of the people around you? Have you changed any pattern of thinking as a result of a different pattern of movement?

How we use our bodies have a direct relationship with what our emotions and perceptions are. A simple example: chin and chest up, shoulder back, stand tall- all indicate a confident person who most probably isn’t afraid to take charge and take hold of the space he is in and claiming his worth and value. A person who slouches, head dropping all the time and drags his feet when he walks is indicative of someone who may feel less worthy and confident and therefore perhaps lacks courage to go outside his comfort zone and try a different route because the certainty of his old patterns offers him greater comfort and a sure result of what’s to come. Is this attitude and current (or old) pattern of action (or inaction to be more accurate) still serving him? How do we break this pattern of constantly feeling stuck in our bodies and stuck in our lives?

One of the most effective ways, in my opinion, is, to begin with, our physical bodies. As you are practicing Yoga or Pilates, notice how open to the experience you are in the process, particularly when you are stretching a very tight or stuck spot where there is pain or discomfort. How are you responding to this experience? Do you go back to the same thought process of “ this is unbearable, I can’t go any further, this is the best I can do” as opposed to “ wow, this is interesting, I am tight here but let me be in it and breathe and yield into it and see if any release sets in”.

Changing Patterns

Photo Credit: Heather Bonker

Notice if you begin to make up excuses about running away from the experience and/or trying to quit simply because the drama of this really hurts has dominated. Identify the source of anxiety if any, that is preventing you from doing that particular exercise without support for example. Ask yourself why you are afraid? The inner critic will always creep up to taunt us that we don’t have what it takes; our body doesn’t have what it takes. Reframing your perceptions to perhaps doing the exercise or a pose in a different way can open up a new path of addressing what’s holding you back all this time. A more positive and optimistic way of addressing this is acknowledging that this discomfort and tightness is part of you instead of denying and fighting it. If the mind yields and receives, the body ultimately yields and receives too.

When the mind stagnates and you allow it to fall into a vortex of challenges that consume you, your awareness of what’s possible is limited. When you stretch on the mat, stretch your awareness bit further and deeper so that with time, patience and positive attitude, you can break the old patterns of thoughts, behaviour, and choices that aren’t useful to you anymore and create new patterns that serve you better.

Shifts in the body create shifts in the mind and shifts in the mind cause shifts to take place in the body. When a new seed is planted in your body and mind, watch it grow and evolve. Give it some light, water it, tend to it WITH love, care, patience and respect. Watch how your body and mind begin to harmonize with each other and new improved patterns will start to appear. Then watch how YOU change and watch how YOU start to transform.