When Change Lights a Fire Under Your Butt (Pratipaksha Bhavanam 101)

There was once a woman married to a military man. After years of faithful service, the couple was looking forward to being full-time civilians again and starting the next chapter in their lives together (a house, a family … ).

Just when they thought they have everything figured out, the call came. She picked up the phone, knowing her husband was on the other end (hooray for caller ID on cell phones).

“It’s official: I’m deploying to Afghanistan for 12 months and we’re going in less than 4 months.”

It’s a good thing she was already sitting down. Staring blankly like a deer in headlights, her mind starts racing, but her husband’s voice quickly brings her back into the moment. They agreed to talk about everything when he got home that night, but her mind was already in overdrive, thinking about all the things they’d need to do over the next few months + what it would be like to spend 12 months by herself, day in and day out.

Guess what … the woman in the story is me + sh*t just got real around here!

(Note: keep reading for the BIG NEWS that I’ve been hinting about recently)

When Change Lights a Fire Under Your Butt (Pratipaksha Bhavanam 101)

Whether it’s a major event or a minor inconvenience, change has a way of lighting a fire under our butt when we least expect it. At that point, we only have two choices: do nothing while we get a crispy rump + new stress zits OR we can graciously accept the spark + make the most of it.

Since change is going to happen in your world regardless of how you feel about it, how do you make the most of it? Pratipaksha Bhavanam, baby!

Pratipaksha Bhavanam is mentioned in the Yoga Sutras (the key tome of yogic philosophy) in Chapter 2, Sutra 33: Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam. Loosely translated, it means, “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be cultivated.”

That seems simple enough, but do you remember the last time you were angry, or frustrated, or on the verge of tears? Thinking happy thoughts is usually the furthest thing from my mind! At times like that, I’m often thinking, “this better not be happening!” or “how in the hell am I going to survive this?!”

Pratipaksha Bhavanam isn’t about ignoring your emotions + pretending that everything is candy and sunshine. The concept of “cultivating the opposite” is about acknowledging how you feel in the moment, but choosing not to follow the negative downward spiral that often accompanies our more intense emotions.

Pratipaksha Bhavanam is not about pushing away your emotions – it’s about shifting focus.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou [Click to Tweet + Share the Awesome!]

I shared that wonderful quote with my Yoga students when I introduced the new theme for my in-person asana classes this month: Yield to Change.

Big or small, change has a habit of stopping you in your tracks like a brick wall. When that happens, you can push back on the brick wall + make no progress whatsoever OR you can yield to the change, employ Pratipaksha Bhavanam, shift focus, + look for the positive opportunities that have just become available.

This concept has it’s own unique translation in English: Opportunity Thinking. Instead of looking for all the negative, worst, fatal parts of the change that’s come along (BRICK WALL!), we suspend our judgement + instead focus on seeing the positive: benefits, opportunities, savings, advantages … etc.


When my husband told me he was deploying + for how long, I knew exactly what I needed to do: leave Southern California. While I’ve deeply enjoyed my 2+ years in the San Diego area, I always knew it was temporary … but I certainly didn’t expect it to end quite yet (Autumn 2015 was the original plan).

Being apart from my husband for 12 months is going to majorly suck – there’s no two ways about that – BUT, Pratipaksha Bhavanam, he is leaving whether I like it or not so I’m going to make the most of the next year. In a few months, I’ll be leaving SoCal + moving back to Connecticut.

That’s right, Nutmeg State, I’m coming home!

I’ll be living with family so my husband and I will save a lot of money + I’m overjoyed about being able to teach Yoga in the state that first introduced me to the practice in 2000 and changed my life forever.

Pratipaksha Bhavanam. Opportunity Thinking.

Focus on what you DO with the change that’s happened to you, not WHAT has happened to you.



When was ONE time that you experienced change that you initially resisted, but were able to find a positive side effect that helped your embrace that unexpected change?

COMMENT below, share your thoughts, + join the conversation!

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6 comments… add one
  • That’s some news! I am so happy you will be with your family while your husband is away. Thank goodness the troops abroad have internet/skype access. Plus he’s an IT expert! Nico and I were apart for almost a year, yes it sucked and yes we got closer. Lots of love to you!

    • Quite the news indeed! It’s so nice to finally be able to tell everyone + then make the most of my last few months in SoCal. Being apart from the one you love is never easy, but as you mentioned he and I should be able to stay in-contact rather consistently. I have no idea what the next year is going to be like, but I’ll be looking for the positives every chance I get! 😉

  • OK, one major positive side effect is that mom gets to spend lots more time with daughter ! We are looking forward to you being home in CT !!

    • That’s another awesome positive side effect to add to the list! 🙂 <3


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