Tuesday, 17 June 2014

I went to India

I went to India. To see my friends, and my teacher, and myself.

I'd been warned about going to India in May. That it would be too hot and too wet. The people at the ashram suggested August would be more pleasant, and I was far more likely to be able to spend time with my teacher. Even when I got to the ashram, one devotee cheerfully told me, "Oh, you've come at the wrong time!"

I had "low" expectations for my visit—in that I just didn't know what I was going to get. And what actually ended up unfolding was so joyful and full and perfect. A wedding in Bombay with the dearest new friends imaginable; in Kerala, my teacher singing and giving darshan and giving out masala dosas; after that, being drizzled in warm milk at an Ayurvedic center in green palm paradise. Huge opportunity for reflection, and gentle dismantling, softening, and re-wrapping of the self.

It was as if having a blank slate makes room for surprise.

While I was at the ashram, I saw a sign on the wall in the Indian accommodation office, quoting my teacher; it talked about expectation making beggars of us. It took me some time to digest this. It seems to me that expectation is so often about wanting—we want (or don't want) something so badly that we'll do anything for it.

I felt very open and curious in India. What was interesting to me is that the expectations started happening when I got home. With work, and people I wanted to see, the things I'd been longing for while away, the habits that had been humming along...

Expectations around the unknown—around travel, adventure and discovery are one thing. But expectations where you already have a lot of related experiences, narratives and patterns can be harder to manage. So I've been trying to make space for life here to bloom and be what it is, just like in India. And I'm practicing this on the mat. Letting the experience and the poses be new, and letting sitting be now. Giving myself the luxury of being present.

This joyful sequence is designed to open the heart and quiet the mind.

Shivananda sun salutations. Surya Namaskar A, B. Utkatasana twist, lunge twist. Vira 2/high prayer flow. Trikonasana, Parsvokonasna. Ekapadarajakapotasana, starting with leg bind/chest open, then fold. Salabasana, Dhanurasana. Sphinx, Bhujangasana. Frog. Restorative sphinx. Forearm plank/dog flow. Sirsasana. Ustrasana. Reclined twist. Happy baby. Paschimotanasana. Suptabadakonasana. Savasana.

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