Thursday, November 24, 2011

Flowing back to me.

I'll be honest here and say that if a conscious effort is not made to stay committed to a yoga practice while traveling, it's just not going to happen. And I was certainly guilty of this once I got swept up in Rome's overwhelming, yet beautiful chaos. Let's just say, I chose other things to focus on-- fun people, unbelievable food, and endless amounts of historic architecture.

But that's how it goes-- there are simply times in life when we fall out of our routine-- the reliable regimen which keeps us grounded. I used to beat myself up when I fell out of mine. I guess I thought my whole world would be rocked if I strayed away from it. After all, I am a creature of habit and well, I used to call myself a "control freak" a couple of months ago. But now, it's safe to say I no longer hold that trait-- or I have figured out a much more fun way to be-- I'll say I have committed to "going with the flow" when it comes to basically every aspect of my life.

When it comes down to it, missing a few days or even weeks of a normal yoga practice is not going to ruin anything... Sometimes, I believe it is actually beneficial. I have applied something to my life that many wise people have told me before--- you don't have to practice yoga everyday physically in order to be practicing yoga.

That sounds confusing, right? It's not really. Once you have experienced the true benefits from a yoga practice, whether they're physical, mental, spiritual, emotional (or all of them), it becomes a lifestyle- a way of being, living, loving, accepting, and letting go.

For me, I have become much more grounded-- in myself and in this world. I have become more comfortable in my skin and more comfortable with simply being exactly who I am-- which in turn, may hopefully help others to do the same. I am more trustful of my life and of God. And I can let go much easier. If I remember these things even while I stray away from my daily practice, I can still be doing yoga. And so can anyone else who wants to.

That's not to say that when a physical practice of asanas is consistent, it is not absolutely wonderful. There are times in my life when I am confused, afraid, unsure, etc. when I am not sure how I would be emotionally without a daily practice of breath work and postures. And when I have the space and the discipline to do it, I certainly do.

So, a couple of weeks after Rome, I was starting to feel a bit uncentered- not unhappy, just a bit off kilter. I knew why-- The most physical yoga I had practiced in the past weeks equalled about one hour total and my mind seemed to be off in several different places. Not to mention the constant moving from place to place, and all of the fabulous wine and food that comes along with traveling-- it was beginning to throw my whole system off a bit.

But I was heading to the perfect place to come back to myself, you might say. I traveled to a farm near Alicante, Spain to work in exchange for living. It is one of the most breathtaking, inexplicably beautiful places I have ever been. It's surrounded by mountains, ripe olive trees line the fields, swings hang from branches, animals roam freely, and the Autumn leaves paint the trees orange and red.

It was a no-brainer. I didn't even have to consciously think this would be where my daily yoga practice would begin again. So, every morning I woke up at sunrise before the volunteers had to help serve breakfast. I made my way down the steps to a little terrace and.. well, did my thing. As cheesy as it may sound, sometimes I couldn't even believe I was doing sun salutations in such a naturally gorgeous place.

 I even had the opportunity to teach again-- one of my fellow volunteers, a German girl asked if I would show her some yoga.  So, she joined me one morning when the sun was coming up. I introduced some basic postures, and we discovered that she had an unbelievably natural balance. I have never seen someone hold Dancer's pose for that long without shaking or wavering the least bit.

My yoga practice on the farm did many things for me; It humbled me-it reminded me how lucky I am to be-- well, alive in general -- but alive in such a beautiful land. And it made me grateful for having found that place, let alone another person to teach-- to share yoga with someone for the first time who seemed to really enjoy it.

And it did what yoga always does-- it brought me back.