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Yoga and the Power of “Right Timing”

In the ancient practice of Yoga, there exists a profound understanding of the concept of “right timing.” It goes beyond mere coincidence or luck; it’s about aligning with the natural rhythms of life to manifest our intentions and actions effectively. Whether on or off the mat, the wisdom of right timing can guide us toward greater harmony and success in all aspects of our lives.

For years, I understood timing was ENTIRELY up to me, my effort and willingness to push through, drive on, and make it happen. It took me longer than I care to admit that this is not what we mean by “right timing” or “right living” for that matter. Instead, Yoga suggests right timing is a balance of patience and perseverance, effort and ease, and independent and interdependent contributions.

Understanding Right Timing

In Yoga philosophy, the concept of “Kairos” refers to the opportune moment, the perfect timing for action. Similarly, the ancient Greek word means “the right or critical moment”. You may be familiar with the term chronos, is relation to time. While chronos is quantitative (measuring amount), kairos has a qualitative (measuring quality), permanent nature. It’s about being in sync with the universe, recognizing when the conditions are ripe for growth, transformation, and expression. Here are three examples of how we can assess if now is the right time:

1. Honor the Seasons of Change:

Just as nature follows a cyclical rhythm of growth, decay, and renewal, so do our lives. There’s a time for planting seeds, a time for nurturing growth, and a time for harvesting the fruits of our labor. Meditation helps us to recognize which season you’re in and practice assists us in adjusting and adapting our actions (doings, non-doing, re-doings and un-doings) accordingly. This is the discipline of Tapas, or wise application of what we know. Forcing outcomes prematurely or resisting change often leads to (unnecessary) struggle and frustration. (And for me, catastrophic accidents and injuries!) This is energy that could be better applied to other endeavors of our spiritual alignment.

In the practice of Yoga, the concept of seasons extends beyond the meteorological calendar; it encompasses the ever-changing cycles of life, both internally and externally. Just as nature experiences the ebb and flow of seasons, our bodies, minds, and spirits also undergo phases of growth, transformation, and renewal. Yoga teaches us to tune into the subtle shifts within ourselves, acknowledging that our energy, emotions, and needs fluctuate like the changing seasons. Through mindfulness practices such as meditation, pranayama (breathwork), and asana (physical postures), we cultivate awareness of these internal rhythms, honoring the unique qualities of each season:

Spring: A time of renewal and awakening, spring symbolizes new beginnings and fresh starts. In Yoga, this season corresponds to the energy of expansion and growth. We may feel a surge of vitality and enthusiasm, making it an ideal time to set intentions, embark on new ventures, and explore possibilities on and off the mat.

Summer: As the days lengthen and the sun shines brightly, summer embodies the peak of vitality and abundance. In our practice, this season is characterized by strength, vitality, and outward expression. We engage in dynamic asanas that build heat and energy, fostering a sense of empowerment and confidence in our abilities.

Autumn: With the arrival of autumn, nature begins its transition towards introspection and release. Similarly, in our Yoga practice, we embrace the qualities of introspection, letting go, and surrender. This season invites us to shed what no longer serves us, whether it be physical tension, mental patterns, or emotional baggage. Through practices such as yin yoga, meditation, and self-reflection, we cultivate the art of surrender and acceptance.

Winter: As nature retreats into stillness and dormancy, winter beckons us to turn inward and rest. In Yoga, this season is a time for introspection, reflection, and nurturing self-care practices. We embrace slower, more introspective practices such as restorative yoga, pranayama, and meditation, replenishing our energy reserves and nourishing our souls.

Yoga invites us to embrace the wisdom of the seasons, both internally and externally. Through the practice of right timing, we learn to honor the natural rhythm of life, trusting that each season serves a purpose in our growth and evolution. Whether we find ourselves in a season of expansion or contraction, we can embrace it fully, knowing that it is an integral part of our journey. By attuning ourselves to the natural rhythms of life and honoring the cycles of growth and change, we can cultivate a deeper sense of connection, harmony, and well-being in body, mind, and spirit. In fact, what we deem as a postponement of progress may actually represent an auspicious opportunity to prepare for what is to come. However, if you feel as though the universe is pushing you forward at too fast a clip, you may be unwittingly resisting your dharma (your life’s work). Your unease regarding the speed of your progress could be a sign that you need to cultivate awareness within yourself and learn to move with the flow of fate rather than against it.).

2. Observe External Signs:

Beyond the changing seasons, the world around us offers an abundance of information and invitations, if we allow ourselves to notice them. Pay attention to the signs and synchronicity unfolding in your external environment. Sometimes, the universe sends us subtle messages or opportunities that indicate the auspicious moment for action. These could come in the form of unexpected encounters, repeated themes, or a sense of serendipity. Stay open and receptive to these signals; they might be guiding you towards your next step.

I’ve been told, “Every person fulfills their purpose when the time is right.” As much as I want to trust and believe this as truth, it feels a bit too simplistic. 😉 I think it’s a bit more complicated, and also a bit more dependent on our perspective (perhaps showing up as expectations and attachments).

If learning or achievement has come easily or quickly for you, perhaps you’ve been on a fast-track to success, you may become deeply frustrated if you can no longer satisfy your desires as quickly as you might like. But, the delays that disappoint may be laying the foundation for future accomplishments that you have not yet conceived or considered. Or the universe may have plans for you that differ from the worldly aspirations you have pursued up to this point. These are examples of how I have learned to “Reframe from Love” the thoughts that might be rooted in fear rather than hope and love.

You may feel compelled to judge your personal success using societal milestones like your age, your professional position, your level of education, or the accomplishments of peers as a yardstick. It’s easy to fall prey to comparison and lose perspective of the journey that brought someone to their point of success. Instead, Yoga reminds us that we are not in a race, and life is not a competition.

I don’t drive very often, as my studio and home are a mere 2-miles apart and I am healthy enough to walk or ride my bike most days. However, when I do drive, I often experience physical tension and emotional anxiety. When road rage peaks its ugly head, I try to remember to breathe and shift my perspective. For example, when another driver blows past me only to arrive, and subsequently have to wait, at the next intersection, I’m reminded that our pace can be much less stressful when we avoid unnecessary stops and starts. Then, in the respite of that reminder to let go of competition, I invite my heart to reframe my assumptions about why that driver is being “so rude.” (“He’s an @$$hole”). Without a need to be right, I consider the possibility that he is on the way to see a dying loved one and every second counts.


3. Listen to Your Inner Wisdom:

Yoga offers three primary components of the practice: breathing (pranayama), postures (asana), and meditation. These practices (rooted in the three tools of body, mind and breath) help us to cultivate self-awareness, insight, and open a channel to wisdom. Meditation and introspective practices like svadyaya (study) help us to gain compassionate clarity.

Our human timetables often do not correspond with universal timetables. It’s common for people to feel like life is progressing too slowly or too quickly. We draft carefully composed plans only to find that they fall into place when we least expect or fail miserably despite all logic and reason. Or, perhaps, we are thrust into roles we believe we are not prepared for and wonder how we will survive the demands imposed upon us by unfamiliar circumstances. When delays in our progress tickle pangs of disappointment within us, or the pace of life seems overwhelming, peace can be found in the simple affirmation that we are exactly where we need to be at this moment. This feels like trust to me.

Before making any significant decision, take a moment to connect with your inner self through meditation or introspection. When you feel a sense of alignment, clarity, and calmness, it’s often a sign that you’re in tune with the right timing. Trust your intuition; it’s a powerful compass guiding you towards your highest good.

A Practice:

  • Take a moment and come into a comfortable position. This may be a reclined place, or if possible and upright seat offers a little better access to the sensory experience.
  • Using visualization, imagine a light traveling up and down your spine with the breath. Inhale, let that light climb towards your head, and the sky above. On the exhale, follow the breath to the sits bones and the earth. Between earth and sky, on this continuum, find your sense of self. Here rests your inherent dignity and worthiness.
  • Now, shift your attention for the vertical into the horizontal. Feel into your right side of the body. Then the left. Flow with breath from right to left and back and forth. Then rest again in the divot of center, like a marble settling into the Chinese Checkers board, rest into your authentic self fully connected and belonging to the community of humans, animals, and life.
  • Next, shift your attention from your back side to your front side. This continuum helps you settle into presence of now. Your backside represents your story, where you’ve comve from, where you’ve been and all you’ve experienced. The front side of the body represents what’ yet to come. Your hopes and dreams, your challenges and opportunities. Some of these things will be a Yes, others will require a “no, thank you.” To be able to arrive at these future decisions with clarity and compassion, we must feel into now. Again, let yourself settle into the divot that is you. You might even start to feel your Center at the intersection of all three of these continuum. When we land in this space, we begin the work of our dharma based on our values of who and what matters most.
  • Stay in this space for a little longer and then gently return to your day.
  • Revisit as often as you like when you need clarity or affirmation to be authentically you.

Cautionary Considerations

While the power of right timing can be transformative, it’s essential to approach it with compassionate attention and discernment. Here are three cautions to be aware of:

  1. Avoid Procrastination (Balance patience and perseverance): While waiting for the perfect moment can be wise, it’s crucial not to fall into the trap of perpetual waiting. Procrastination disguised as waiting for the right timing can hinder progress and lead to missed opportunities. Be mindful of the fine line between patience and passivity; sometimes, taking imperfect action is better than waiting indefinitely.
  2. Avoid All or Nothing (Balance effort and ease): The practice of right timing requires a delicate balance between effort and surrender. While it’s essential to take inspired action towards our goals, we must also surrender the outcome to the greater intelligence of the universe. Trying to control every aspect of our lives can create tension and resistance. Cultivate trust in the unfolding of life’s natural rhythm, knowing that everything happens in divine order.
  3. Avoid Critical Comparison (Embrace and respect individual paths): What may be the right timing for one person may not necessarily be the same for another. Each of us is on a unique journey with our own lessons to learn and growth to experience. Avoid comparing your timing to others or feeling pressure to conform to external expectations. Trust in your own process and honor the timing that feels authentic to you.

In conclusion, the practice of right timing invites us to align with the flow of life, trusting in the wisdom of the universe to guide our actions and decisions. By cultivating awareness, intuition, and patience, we can harness this power to navigate life’s challenges with grace and ease. As we surrender to the natural rhythm of existence, we discover that everything unfolds in divine perfection, exactly as it “should”.