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I had every intention of writing my blog first thing this morning, after running out for a quick breakfast. Three hours later, I’m back at my computer after a super adventure I never could have predicted. I’m in Toronto, preparing to present at a yoga conference this weekend, but today I’m completely free.
After a healing hot chocolate, I wandered the streets for a while. I stumbled across St. Andrew’s Church, a gorgeous structure that’s also home to the 48th Highlander’s Museum, Toronto’s first and only Canadian Highland Regiment.
Yep, kilts and all.
Lucky for me, it was open and I was greeted by a lifelong member of the regiment, W.O. Ron Denham, C.d. (Ret’d). Ron was pleased to show me around, and brought the uniforms, flags, and pieces of history alive with his profound knowledge and storytelling flair.
I heard about his meeting with two queens, a king, his love of tartan, single-malt, his country, his heritage and his respect for Lieutenant General Arthur Currie, who bucked convention by refusing to grow a moustache, being less-than-stellar on horseback, and developing a reputation for expending ammunition before his men’s lives. He wasn’t popular with the other by-the-book officers, but he was a leader among his men, and went on to become the Commander of the Canadian Corps.
Now, war and its aftermath makes me sad. But I couldn’t but feel reverence for the men and women who bravely went off to fight for something they believed in. I felt enveloped in the weighty cloak of their choices. My time at the museum brought up so many yogic themes and questions that I will offer up to my classes and students over time.
What struck me most today was how life’s surprises are waiting for us around every corner, where we might not think to look. Today I invite you to make space for what you might not know. If you’re in your millionth Downward Dog, and you think you “get” this pose, the very next time you do it, you might be surprised with a revelation. One of the defining characteristics of a yogi is the willingness to let go of the preconceived plan or judgment and allow new experiences or perceptions come to you.
Prana, or life energy, doesn’t like to be controlled. In fact, the secret of life and yoga is that life energy cannot be made to do anything. We can only remove obstacles like stress, tension, and clouded ways of seeing, thereby creating the space necessary for life force and insight to flood into us. And it will.
As Robert Frost says in his poem The Road Not Taken:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Sometimes, when we stop micro-managing every step, and instead allow prana-invoking moments of sweet surrender, we begin to nourish the sthira (spaciousness) side of our poses and ourselves.
Only when we can release our grand illusion of control, step off our beaten paths, be still and ask,”What’s next?” will the most thought-provoking moments of inner inquiry appear, and rise to meet us.
Core Question: How will you make space for your next Super Adventure? What happened when you did?
Core Pose: Five-Minute Yogi’s Choice
During your next home practice, your teaching, or perhaps even right now in your chair, take fiv
e minutes for an unplanned pose or flow to arise from within.
How does your body need to move? What is your breath teaching you? Instead of doing the pose from your mind, try being the pose more, listening to your inner cues, and letting your energy and breath dictate the movement. Even if it looks nothing like a classical yoga asana, go with the flow anyway. It’s your Super Adventure moment!