Letting Go of Expectations

14 Mar

Handstanding in Brazil

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.
—Groucho Marx

Last Thursday night I finally made it back to Flight Club at Yogis Anonymous with one of my favorite teachers, Brock Cahill. I hadn’t been able to practice as much as I prefer due to a host of reasons (house sitting, adjusting to work being busy, getting locked on a rooftop and rescued by firemen… you know, the usual lol).  I was exhausted from being sick and a stressful week at work. Clearly, I was making excuses for myself before I could begin class. For those of you who have never taken a class with Brock, he teaches one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken, and even when I bring my A game, it kicks my butt every time.

 

I found myself on my mat starting to list all of these excuses as to why I wouldn’t be able to have a good practice or keep up. I caught the stream of chatter flowing through my mind, and was able to recognize what was going on. I gave myself a little pep talk and reminded myself the practice was not about mastering every trick pose or transition, and it didn’t really matter what I could or could not do. What mattered was attempting class with an open mind and just being present to how I felt in the moment instead of telling myself before I even started that it would hurt and I couldn’t do it anymore.

 

I did my best to clear my mind and let go of all of the negative self-talk and doubt while centering during class. And it actually worked! Maybe I was too exhausted to keep up my usual running commentary during class. I suddenly felt truly present and open to each moment as it unfolded. I felt my tension and exhaustion begin to melt away as I poured my focus into my present. When I realized my expectations about my ability to do hard poses, suddenly I found myself holding my handstands much longer than I usually can without much effort. I startled myself so much at one point I fell out of the pose.

 

Even though I went into class super tired and stressed and feeling out of practice, I actually had a stronger practice because I was able to let go of my expectations and just be :)

 

Maybe the key is to be too exhausted to over-think ;)

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Letting Go of Expectations”

  1. Big Om Daddy March 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Your post made me think of a conversation I had with an Indian friend of mine. He was complaining how Westernized yoga is such a physical practice rather than a more meditative one. Surely, to many yoga is a way to get great abs and tight buns so they can date better guys. However, it is perfectly natural for yoga to be a pretty aggressive physical practice than in the east.

    In the West, we have created a lot of mental constructs. We don’t have jobs but we have “careers.” We worry about what kind of car will properly represent us in life or what the perfect clothes to wear to snag Mr. Right or Miss Wrong (for the men). All of these constructs are by no means wrong but they are huge distractions.

    The asana is a tool to quiet the mind and control “chitta” (mind stuff). Therefore, if you have a lot of distractions, it makes sense that asana would be that much more intense. As you observed in Mr. Cahill’s class, all that physical effort allowed you to eventually tune in to the present.

    Peace Out !

    • K.O. Yoga March 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

      I definitely find that a very physically challenging class helps me to stay focused an in the moment. And I’m definitely easy distracted. :)

      I do think it’s interesting how yoga is so different in the US versus in India. Good food for thought. I say if it helps you, then go with it :)

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