Loveletter Archives : Change – Responding v Reacting

Change is the One Constant.

Sometimes it’s of our own choosing and sometimes it’s thrust upon us.
In my experience, while both can be challenging (humans tend to be creatures of habit), the latter can be infinitely harder to accept.

It can come in many forms :-

  • Death
  • Injuries
  • Illness
  • The endings of relationships
  • Losing your home
  • Losing your income

Often these can also bring with them a loss of your “sense of self”.

In Yoga, we practise the art of Responding, rather than just Reacting.

On the Mat

Let’s bring this back to the yoga mat. Let’s say, for example, your teacher calls out a pose during class and the thought that comes to mind is:

“I can’t do that!”

Your reaction may be to sit it out altogether, perhaps even with your arms folded, looking on in disbelief.

But what if we watch that first thought?
Observe it.

When we do, we become the Observer – watching the thought with awareness – rather than just the Thinker of the thought.

Now dig at the layers and try to understand it:

Why do I think I can’t do that?

  • Perhaps there IS a genuine contraindication and that particular pose really isn’t healthy for us.

If that’s not the case, a conscious response to that first thought might be to Change the Negative Thought – known to yogis as Pratipaksha Bhavanam , for example:

“I can’t do that… YET!”

And to watch that thought… and any others that arise from it. 

  • Perhaps you’re not physically ready for the full pose yet.
  • Perhaps you have a mental block.

In either case, ask your teacher for a modification to make it feel better for your body and to ease yourself towards it.
For example:

Modifications your teacher might give for the Forward Fold: Rag Doll

Off the Mat

Modifications on the mat translate into “Babysteps” off the mat.

When big change is thrust upon us – or even of our own choosing – it can feel overwhelming. Often it can then be the lightest of straws that ‘breaks the camel’s back’.

Before that happens, break things down: SIMPLIFY

1) Do what’s NECESSARY:-
        – Prioritise
        – Ask for & Accept advice, help and support.

2) Do what’s POSSIBLE:-
        – Get the Easy things done first.
(The sense of accomplishment will help to Motivate you!)
        – Ask for & Accept advice, help and support.

3) Watch your confidence grow as your comfort zone expands & the “IMPOSSIBLE” becomes POSSIBLE:-
        –  ask for & accept help, advice and support.

And when you see others undergoing great change, challenge and transformation, don’t wait for them to ask for help, advice and support. Offer it freely.
Life can throw some curveballs and it’s always nice to know we’re not alone.

Remember, we’re all in this together and none of us are getting out alive.


If you’re new to yoga and meditation, check out the full
“Intro To Yoga Series”

Final Thoughts

When big changes come, it can sometimes leave us feeling anxious, angry or depressed. It’s best not to try to suppress or repress these emotions but don’t let them control you either! Let them guide you or fuel your journey onwards but Remember, just as you are not your thoughts, nor are you your emotions.

May you accept any changes with Love and Smiles and Softness.


Profile photo and text: Much Love, Nette xxx

Originally published in the June Nirmala Loveletter, 2018. To sign up for future Loveletters, click here and receive a free relaxing guided meditation.

Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and Oneness Blessing Giver based in Andalucía.

Follow her on IG @nettenirmalayoga or find her on facebook @NirmalaYogaSpain