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A Day (18) of Surprises January 28, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Food, Health, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philosophy, Texas, Twin Cities, Yoga.
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Day 18

“Be prepared.” – Motto for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America


“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” – Oscar Wilde


Ask almost any red-blooded American and they can tell you the motto for the Boy Scouts of America: Be Prepared – or, always be prepared. Ask for the Girl Scouts motto and even former Girl Scouts like me draw a blank. We have to look it up. Turns out the scouting organizations share the same motto. And, while I may not have remembered the motto as being part of my scouting days, it is something I take to heart. Scouts have their trusty pocket knives and can make a tourniquet out of a belt or sash. I have a backpack I refer to as my portable office. People say even the “small” one is bigger than me. I try to carry everything I might need during the course of a day; but,  even I’m not prepared for everything (not even close). There are things (and times) for which you can only prepare for by being open to whatever comes: expect the unexpected.

Today was one of those days when I could have probably (undoubtedly) left the pack at home. I was planning to sub a class that is usually taught without music, and I planned to open it up for requests – which I rarely ever do. After lunch with a fellow Texan, I planned to meet with Cynthia Rae Levine, another yoga instructor, and then take her prenatal class so that I could sub for her in the future. Somewhere along the way, I planned to practice the sequence featured for Day 18 of Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge and practice one or both of my meditations.

This should have been a big purse or a pocket-full-of-stuff day, but I wasn’t prepared to go out without my full arsenal, so I swung on my “small” pack. Just in case.

Rewinding just a bit, I should mention that the unexpected happened before I ever left the house. My alarm was acting funny and I ended up getting out of bed a little later than I planned. Normally I plan to arrive where ever I’m teaching at least 30 minutes early; that way, if there’s a delay, I’m usually covered. Sometimes when I’m subbing I give myself even more grace time, but sometimes I give myself less. Even though I woke up later than usual, the class was later than when I usually teach and I figured I had time to fit in some aspects of my daily routine.

I sat for 5 minutes, which became 10 before I realized I had incorrectly set the alarm. I still had time to do the Day 18 video, a 30-Minute Aligning and Refining Forward Bends Practice with Elise Lorimer. But it was going to be tight. I almost skipped the video, just so I wouldn’t have to rush and (to be honest) I wasn’t sure I’d had enough sleep to keep up with one of Lorimer’s sequences. I ultimately decided to do the video, but I set the alarm to keep myself on schedule. (And yes, I double checked the alarm.)

I liked this sequence a lot more than the “Fun Flow.” It was still intense on the hips and I can see some people saying parts are cued a little fast, but it felt really good. I didn’t feel like I was opening up for forward bending – or that I was refining my forward bends – but I get where she was going. I also felt like it was fun and could be challenging for a variety of different fitness and experience levels. I especially liked the IT band stretch based on Ardha Hanumanasana. I haven’t been doing a lot of Eka Pada Rajakopatasana I (One Legged King Pigeon I) in my classes, because I feel like a lot of attention needs to be given to the proper alignment. So, I was a little surprised to find it in this mix. However, going into it, and Cow Face pose (legs only), gave me an opportunity to notice how my hips have changed over the last few months. Also, because I felt like the sequence lacked forward bending, I paid particular attention to the King Pigeon feels and works as a forward bend. I was a little disappointed in the way the block and blanket were used. A fully supported Standing Forward Fold or a fully supported Pascimottanasana would have been appreciated during this sequence. I’m pretty sure Lorimer was going for the latter at the end of the sequence, but I felt like it would have been more effective with the blanket on top of the legs and the block on top of that. The video seemed to go over 30-minutes, so I didn’t get the extended Savasana for which my body was begging. It would have been really nice after this sequence. Overall, I felt really good – good enough to meditate – but I didn’t have time.

I missed my bus and had to take the train, which was delayed a little bit. Honestly, I was gratefully for the slight delay because it enabled me to catch the “earlier” train. Then I discovered that the slight delay was probably a direct result of a power line falling on the train tracks and disrupting service to downtown.

Hmm, nothing in my backpack was going to help with this situation. All I could do was take a deep breath; get on the bus acting as the train; reassure a business man he wouldn’t be far from his hotel; and call my supervisor to say I would probably be a minute or two late.

I was 2 minutes late. After running through Macy’s and the skyway, I climbed up the stairs to the 6th floor studio – only to discover another teacher was teaching the class. I quietly, and as unobtrusively as possible, closed the door and headed back down the stairs. I was relieved that the class had started on time, but I was unprepared to discover there had been some scheduling confusion and the other teacher had showed up expecting to teach all along. Again, I was relieved and – again – there was nothing in my pack to help with the fact that we might encounter the same confusion on Monday. I took a deep breath and left the other teacher a message, hoping we could clear up in confusion in the morning.

My Texas friend and I met for lunch a little earlier than we had planned. Then we explored a cafe/bakery/deli/baltic import shop across the street from where we had lunch. We had a great time, as we always do, and our little retail adventure was an unexpected pleasure. (My backpack finally came in handy, because my friend brought me a package from home, which I handily slipped into my pack, but this was neither unexpected or absolutely necessary.)

Eventually, I made it over to the coffee shop near the studio to meet with Cynthia. Both of us were running late – nothing major, and nothing in my pack that would have made a big difference. We had tea and then moved over to the studio for class. I pulled some of my yoga goodies out of my pack; but, seriously folks, I could have foregone the goodies or carried them in a large purse.

At the beginning of class, Cynthia has everyone introduce themselves and give some information about their pregnancy. She also has a question for each of the “mamas” to answer. Tonight’s question was “What word are you currently associating with your pregnancy?”

Well, since I’m not pregnant, I went with an obvious one: Miraculous. One of the women said, “Surprising.” Either of those words could apply to my feelings during and after the class. Plainly put, Cynthia led an amazing class that was three parts inspiration, one part exertion, and two parts relaxation. Plus, it was a super fun combination of hip openers, core engagement, breathing, balance, and forward bending. When we moved into Savasana I felt, in a nutshell, so phenomenal and so utterly relaxed, I wished I was pregnant just so I would have an excuse to come back next week.

Nothing in my back pack prepared me for that.

At the end of the day, as I sat down to do my 18-Minute So Hum Meditation, I couldn’t help but think about how the day started and all the little things that happened along the way. Then I thought of something Cynthia repeated throughout our conversations during tea, and during the introduction to her class: “Life is life.” To me, that summed up my day, my week, and this whole 21-day yoga challenge, Life is unexpected, surprising, and miraculous – it is full of the unexpected. And, it doesn’t matter how many gadgets are on your Swiss Army knife or in your backpack, the only way you can really be prepared for everything is if you are prepared to breath through anything.

Cynthia Rae Levine teaches prenatal classes at Nokomis Yoga and at Blooma. If you're looking for a prenatal class or a doula in the Twin Cities, check her out!

~ NAMASTE ~

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