Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going with the Flow

Last Tuesday I flew to Melbourne for business and returned Friday night because I was teaching on Saturday morning. As a part-timer, I usually use my Wednesdays off to prepare for my yoga classes. However, being in Melbourne I had to work.

Days of back-to-back meetings meant that I stayed back late at the office collating and digesting information and didn't return to my hotel room until 8:00 or 9:00pm. Late Thursday evening I scribbled down a sequence for the general class, and then, in the airport lounge on Friday I planned the Seniors class. I estimated timings for the general class during the flight to Sydney and ‘refined’ the practices for both classes when I returned home at 10:30pm. However, I was too tired to physically run through the classes and check the sequence and actual timings.

Saturday morning and all I had was some scribbled notes and vague ideas of themes instead of my usual typed class plans. I knew I was in trouble in the general class when there were only three asanas left and half an hour to fill! And I almost panicked in the Seniors class when I discovered I was missing a set of practices I wanted to include.

Somehow I made it through! I'd skimmed through notes on dhanurasana (bow pose) before going to bed so remembered a number of preparatory and counter poses that I could include for the general class. For the Seniors, memory of previous classes kicked in and I was able to recall the missing practices. When I recounted my experience to my teacher, she replied, “I'm so excited for you - running by the seat of your pants ... is the best yoga practice for you!”

I'm not sure whether she means that this is the best practice for all yoga teachers—the ability to be flexible and adapt classes as required—or whether she means that this is the best practice for me personally because I am such a control freak. I admire my teachers' abilities to change their classes based on the ‘energy’ of the room; my classes are planned with ‘if-there-is-time’ practices that sometimes do, sometimes don't get included.

Practising flexibility and adaptability could also extend beyond my classes and into my daily life. I'm stressed about my current project. (Some might say, “What's new?” I seem to always be stressing about something.) Like many projects the scope of work is growing yet the time to perform the work has almost halved. But what's the use of stressing? I need to be flexible and do the best I can with the limitations imposed on me. Why worry about factors I cannot control? One of the trainers on The Biggest Loser is always saying: “Control the controllables; let the variables look after themselves.” and, although this saying has always resonated with me, I've never really tried to apply it. Maybe I should?

My nature is to plan; I feel uncomfortable when things do not go to plan. Yet letting go, surrendering to the flow of life, can be so liberating and calming. There was a real sense of achievement after I completed those yoga classes.

Maybe I need to trust that I have the knowledge required to get me through a class or a project or even life, or trust that there will always be someone to turn to and be open to whatever help he or she provides.

Last Saturday we had dinner at the local Chinese restaurant and my fortune cookie revealed the following:

Fortune cookie slip saying, 'Stop worrying ... And take a chance'

“Stop worrying ... And take a chance”. Hmmm ... that pretty much sums up the lesson for me.

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