When things change

As humans, we’re really good when we’re in control, but what happens if something changes that’s out of your control, or what happens when you have to make a decision with your best knowledge in that moment without any time to really think about it?

yoga-keep-calm

There’s a yoga sutra that pulled itself into my consciousness this week:

Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

“When you think you have it under control, you had better check again. These tendencies are often subtle, and the untrained mind has a way of avoiding the issues. Develop constant introspection, and pay attention.”

~Bhavani Silvia Maki (The Yogi’s Roadmap)

A few things happened that made this teaching feel relevant.

1. A trip that had previously been cancelled is now happening in three weeks and I committed to going, after deciding to not go.

2. Two yoga studios merged and my students are having to adjust.

3. Wednesday was my last night teaching regular classes at a studio I have taught at since it opened.

Wow.

The Trip. I can’t say I was excited for the initial trip, but I was committed and it was an amazing opportunity to experience a new country and work with a team to build houses, including one that I raised the money to fund. Then, there were a few natural events and the trip was cancelled with the plan of rescheduling. When the trip was rescheduled, I wasn’t all in. I needed to process it and decide if it was something I really wanted to do. I came to the decision to not go, but it still didn’t feel right. So I kept sitting on it. Finally, I rebooked. Done.

The Studios. January 1 marked the merging of two studios and January 9 is the change in schedules so this past week has been amazing with getting to teach new students in busy classes. Wednesday was a gloriously full class with many new-to-me faces. For many of them, they were new to the space and were unsettled by the change to the location and schedule. My work, as their teacher, was to acknowledge their discomfort and to help them live their yoga practice. My class included teachings around Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

The Classes. I have had the privilege to witness the community grow and develop for the past two years. Through teaching four classes a week, I have watched my students become more focused, mobile, and dedicated to the teachings of yoga. The experience has added depth to my teaching and passion for sharing the lessons that yoga has to offer us. These students have really drawn me in and I will miss them dearly. I had held onto these classes because of my students. Changes to the schedule gave me the push that I needed to release these classes in order to pursue other opportunities.

Loss of control.

I thought I had made the decision to not go on the trip. My students had their yoga schedule figured out. My teaching schedule had remained mostly unchanged for two years and my work schedule was adjusted to fit.

How do you handle events outside of your control?

For me, I take a look inside, I ask myself, what do I need to learn from this? What is this telling me? There are no “right” answers to these questions, these answers are open to interpretation as they come from within you.

Some people sit in meditation, I’m still working on that, but I do “sit with” the decision that feels right. I listen to my gut/my first reaction, then I “test” that decision. I pay attention to my reactions to that decision. If that decision doesn’t “feel right”, the thoughts will continue to whirl around my mind. When it doesn’t feel “done” I know it’s not the right decision/next step yet.

When a decision is “final”, sometimes it can feel sudden, but it also feels complete. When I made the call to rebook my flight, it seemed urgent, rushed, but it also felt final, and “right”.

There was no decision for my students, they will have to continue to practice this magical thing called yoga and make the best choices for themselves as they find new teachers and a new routine. My hope is they can see this change as a positive and are able to further develop their practice through both new teachers/styles, and through their own internal practice of living through this change.

Change isn’t easy, but it is constant. The trick is to look at the change, to look at how it makes you feel, acknowledge that, look at the lessons this change can offer you, and keep moving forward with a positive outlook.

In love,
~Alannah

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Yoga Musings

Instead of sleeping (or being out on a Friday night) I thought I’d share a few random thoughts I’ve had recently.

Yoga Goggles
There are many reasons why men should practice yoga: build strength, stretch and lengthen muscles, improve movement and functionality of the body, stress reduction, challenge…fit women in luon (whatever gets you there boys!), but here’s another reason for (single) men to roll out a mat: Yoga Goggles. Yoga Goggles act similar to Beer Goggles, but healthier; when an average looking guy chooses to attend a yoga class of his own free will, he instantly becomes hotter! I highly recommend you come to class and say hi to the cute girl sweating next to you.

Being “Good” at Yoga
I recently met someone who has never practiced yoga, so I shared that now, I can’t imagine my life without a regular practice; however, it took me many years to get to this point. His reply was “you must be pretty good at it”; which got me thinking, that’s really the amazing thing about yoga, there’s always a new layer to peel back and discover!

He then asked for an example and this was my response:
It’s a pretty cool form of exercise because as you practice, your body gets stronger AND more flexible and your mind becomes quieter. So as those changes occur, new poses become available for you, and new feelings within old poses arise. When I started, I had the physical strength to do handstand, but my fear (head/thoughts) was my limiting factor, now my head is catching up to my body.

As these thoughts dance inside my head during my practice, I also marvel at how those changes and shifts can happen daily; some days my arms feel strong and some days my hips feel tight and pinchy; all those combinations alter the practice each and every moment!

I was talking to someone else recently about yoga and equated it to growing out your hair (guys, this might not make sense): for months, it feels like your hair hasn’t grown at all, then one morning, you wake up and notice “all of a sudden” your hair is longer. I touched on this in a previous post, but I feel it fits in well here and is worth repeating: yoga (and life) is not always about achieving the next pose (goal), sometimes it’s about building the foundations, getting stronger in other ways, then “all of a sudden”, poof, the pose is there for you (you’ve achieved that BHAG, your hair has grown)!

Life Lessons from the Mat

There are many moments in life when we feel like we’ve slid down a slip & slide to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…ok, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but sometimes it does feel that way. But tonight, when I popped into eka pada koundinyasana (not me), I realized that no matter how many times we stumble, slip, fall into an abyss, we’ve still made some movement in a forward direction.

When I first started practicing yoga, koundinyasana seemed crazier than handstand to me (and I still fear handstand without someone to support me), so I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses (bakasana also not me). Then, one day, one of my teachers walked me into koundinyasana without me noticing.

Then I stumbled. It wasn’t a consistant pose for me yet. So I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses. But now, I knew what it felt like to be in that pose!

It’s been about a year since Crista walked me into koundinyasana for the first time and I’m still not sure I have it 100% of the time, but I definitely have it more times than I don’t. And every day that I don’t have it, I keep practicing yoga and other poses and moving in that forward direction towards it being a 100% of the time pose.

Take this lesson off the mat, in your career, even if you’ve never had the feeling of pure passion for your career, you’re learning and growing and developing towards that position; or, if you have felt that passion and slipped, you know what it feels like and are moving in that forward direction yet again.

In love, even if you’ve never fallen in love, you’re laying the foundation to build a strong, meaningful relationship by spending time working on yourself, or dating duds, or experiencing bad relationships that you don’t want, or good relationships with someone who just isn’t quite The One. But, inevitably, one day, it’ll just be there for you (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

Even if you don’t think you’re heading in the right direction, or if you’ve forgotten about the goal for a moment, it’s still there and you’re still doing things that are leading you towards it so when you remember it, or when an opportunity to try it again presents itself, you’ll be that much more ready for it.

Oh Yoga, the Great Teacher!