Since I moved to New Orleans in March, time has definitely sped up. Some days I wake up still thinking I'm in our Silver Spring condo, only to be reminded that I'm in New Orleans and it's already summer time! Time flying usually means little details get over looked ... details such as, I may not have booked our flights for that anniversary vacation we paid for two years ago, and now there are no flights left to book. Whoops! After a few deep yogic breaths and meditation on the word ACCEPTANCE, I picked up the phone to see what I could fix. A quick call to the Caribbean and dates were changed and flights were booked for a different location: Nassau, Bahamas! Once on vacation, there would be more ACCEPTANCE moments, this time concerning my yoga practice.
For those of you that know me very well, you know that I love practicing yoga on vacation. There's something deeply satisfying when I practice in a new setting, especially when that setting is the beach. Usually, on vacation I get back to my Ashtanga roots and I practice alone during sunrise. It's not that I avoid yoga classes, but they are harder to find on vacation in the Caribbean. My last yoga class in the Caribbean was in 2010. No one else showed up for the morning class, so the instructor was delighted to learn I practiced Ashtanga. For the next hour, very few words passed between us as we moved through his favorite shortened Ashtanga sequence. He enjoyed the surprise of having a student to share his love of Ashtanga, while I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the presence of a good instructor, and the familiarity of a sequence that allowed me to feel at home so many miles away. My 2014 vacation yoga experience would be vastly different, and not just because we practiced on the pier instead of the sand.
When I first saw "Free Yoga: 10:00 a.m." I remembered back to that wonderful class in 2010. I was already off to creating expectations for my experience. That morning, Two people arrived for class, me and another woman who looked rather athletic, but said she was a beginner. The instructor had a beautiful poise about her; though she had an English accent her tan gave away her years in the Caribbean. We sat down to center, and I took in the smells, sights, and sounds: the wooden pier under my thin mat, the smell of salt on the cooling breeze, the sound of the birds socializing on the sand below. From sitting, we then moved on to savasana... wait, what? My body tensed up, and my mind whirled away, analyzing why in the world we were starting class with savansa. I had obviously walked into the opposite of a Vinyassa Flow class, and I could feel the disappointment in every muscle. My subconscious stubbornness hung like a gray cloud over every pose: her voice no longer calming my mind; my body tense with a feeling of disjointedness in the sequence; my inner teacher analyzing every instruction, every pose. Though I felt rather unbalanced, I noticed I was holding Tree Pose with ease. That was reminder enough to me that while I am capable of executing the physical aspects of a pose, right there on that pier in the Bahamas, I was not practicing yoga. My current experience was being molded not by the instructor, but by me. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and revisited my lifelong mantra: ACCEPTANCE. I accepted that this was a different class, different instructor, and different experience. The last half of class was more enjoyable. I was calmed again by my surroundings, and focused on letting my mind rest while I worked away the tension in my body.
After class, the other student thanked the instructor, walked off the pier and happily continued along her blissful vacation journey. Once the other student was off the pier, the instructor said, "I hope that sequence was OK for you. It's not often that I get advanced students in my class." I told her that the class was good; the sequence was very different from my usual class and much more relaxing than what I usually teach. That led us into a conversation about our backgrounds, certifications, students, styles, and travels. Those conversations led us to arm balances, and her asking me to teach her a few she’d seen, but never learned. Though anxious to not be away from my husband too long, I happily stayed another 15 minutes to teach her side crow, and my personal favorite, Koundinyasana II. As I finally rolled up my mat, I thought about how this morning went absolutely against every one of my expectations, from the type of class to finishing my own practice by teaching. That was all perfectly fine by me. By going with the flow, by practicing acceptance, I allowed myself to enjoy a new yoga experience in the Caribbean and find the peace I was seeking. As I walked off the pier, I happily continued along my blissful vacation journey.
In the background of the picture is the aforementioned pier where the yoga class took place.
Namaste to those near & far; I miss you all.