Monday, December 15, 2008

How Life Is Like Yoga - Entry 1

So for awhile now, I have had these floating thoughts of how life is like yoga. Because I have been able to practice with so many wonderful yogis, big and small, and have had amazing teachers, especially Ally Hamilton over at Santa Monica Power Yoga West,  to point out the similarities, these connections keep bubbling over more and more. Cause it's more than what happens on your mat, you know. I have decided to start capturing these thoughts and finally put them to paper..or screen!
Today I want to focus on the art of going with the flow and being happily surprised..or not. In the end, it's all good. Some of the most clear examples of this have taken place right at the yoga studio or at sunset yoga, outside in lovely Santa Monica. There have been many times I have walked into a class, sooo excited to practice with a particular teacher, proud that I made it to class after what usually is a lot of hustle and bustle during my day, only to slip off my shoes, roll out my mat and discover that the teacher I was planning to practice with for the next 90 minutes is not there! Instead, there is a sub. Sometimes, it is a sub that I have had before- some I liked a bit and some I did not really connect with. Other times it is a whole new teacher, and I'm sitting there thinking, "hmm, I wonder what this is going to be like." But I will be honest with you- I'm usually more or less expectations have been dashed. Still, I realize that this is an opportunity to learn, to examine my attachments and how I think things "should be." 
As the class goes on, one of three things happens. Either I love the class, I kinda dig it, or I realize that that teacher's style and approach is not for me. But no matter what, I learn something, about myself and yoga in general. These situations teach me to be grateful no matter what- after all, I have a lovely studio to roll out my mat in and fellow yogis going for the ride with me. And if I'm there, it means I'm in good health...woo hoo!!  I might learn a new pose, a new way to approach a series of asanas (poses), or hear a song that really speaks to me and go home and immediately download it. One time there was a sub for Ally , and I was so bummed because I had brought my best friend to the class and was sad that she was going to miss out on a Tuesday night class. Well,it turns out that this sub ROCKED!! Amazing music, amazing message, amazing of my best classes ever. It moved me. Then there was the time that I went to a class, and the sub was so not my scene that halfway through, I left. I felt kinda bad, but I felt it was worse to stay out of guilt than true enjoyment. 
This summer was a real eye opener because I took Sunset Yoga through Lululemon, where every week was a different teacher. Again, not every teacher was for me, but it pushed me to open my mind up to new experiences and let go of a lot of those attachments. I can't think of a better place to do that than at yoga, in the summer, outside at sunset, at a free class. 
No matter how much I like the teacher or the class , or not, I come face to face with not only my attachments, but I also have an experience to examine what kind of yoga teacher I would like to be. I get a chance to experience first hand how music, tone of voice, pace, and overall style affect the class and choose which ones I would like to embody. If I hold onto my attachments and not try new classes, than I can never really say, "I prefer this style over that one." How do you know what you really like if you don't really experiment?
But on another level, the message here is that sometimes we walk into a situation, be it a job, relationship, event, hobby, etc., fully thinking it is going to be one thing. We dream up images of what it will be like, based on past experiences or new ones we would love to have. Sometimes it is everything we would like it to be and more- we are happily surprised! Sometimes it is sooo not what we had bargained for and wind up disappointed. But I say examine that disappointment- what needs were you not getting met? What was it that you thought this person or job or experience was going to provide you that it didn't? How can you provide it for yourself? And what did you learn here? If anything, find the gratitude in the lesson...there is always something to be learned. Even if you have to walk out. Like when I left that class- sometimes it is so hard for me to say, "This isn't working. I don't like this. It's not for me." In just that small instance, I practiced the art of walking away when it wasn't right- that didn't make that teacher wrong, it just meant that the class wasn't a fit for me. Maybe the lesson I needed to learn that day was not how to approach a pose differently... maybe the lesson was learning how to walk away from a misfit situation gracefully, respecting both parties.  If I had been overly attached to what I thought that class was going to bring me, I probably would have not seen the bigger picture at hand.
Know that I am human. I don't walk around always seeing the bigger picture and being unattached to outcomes. It is a practice. Like yoga. A practice. I'm just moving forward. I'm just hoping to have my attachment to outcomes blown with some big, happy surprises in my life, like I did at that Tuesday night class. But damn it, that's an attachment. :-)

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