On the morning of the winter solstice at 5 am, I woke up to a nasty scorpion sting. It was my first one ever and damn, did it hurt! Hours later, still feeling the buzz of the bite and traveling in a bus on a bumpy road from Lake Atitlan, I made it back to Antigua.
Over the last five weeks, I had been engulfed in a yoga teacher training. As you can imagine, I was excited for the next chapter of my life as a bohemian nomad, uncertain of how it will all look but clear on a few intentions that consist of developing my online business, plugging into a foreign culture and working on my Spanish skills. Anywho, before I wander off topic (still feeling the high from the scorpion sting), I want to discuss an important lesson that is often spoken about in yoga classes and why it is a vital life skill. That skill is flexibility.
It is a foundational piece of yoga asana that is not just in the physical form but in the mind. Sometimes flexibility means going out of your way, meeting in the middle, leaning into the discomfort, surrendering and letting go of control. It isn’t always easy or convenient. It is a learned behavior that is achievable when we put the effort into becoming more flexible which can be as subtle as shifting perspective. An example shift in perspective could be when you observe your behaviors and ensure that you are not being reactive. Yoga teachers are constantly preaching about observation and for good reason. When we can come from a place of non-attachment, aparigraha in Sanskrit, we can be more loving, sweeter and lighter. This act of being flexible doesn’t mean being passive but instead, the importance of staying open, non-reactive/judgmental and meeting people where they are which ultimately means compromise.
Yoga has helped me over the years become more flexible in my body, that’s for sure. But the true lessons that transpired have broadened my perspective into becoming a more open and receptive human being. The practice is a fine art of when to be strong versus flexible when to push harder verses when to back off. For example, I follow a predominately plant-based diet but when I am in another country and I don’t have many options if any at all, I do my best to chose accordingly and unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible. I travel prepared and do my research. However, there are moments that I let go of my stance and compromise with the cards that I have been dealt. I surrender my control over the situation and I embrace the culture along with the options that I have, simply to be less neurotic and more malleable.
I do my best to integrate these beautiful lessons of yoga in everyday life whether it be in my relationships, work, play, projects, travel and the list goes on. I choose to be compassionate, understanding and loving. It’s about the application process and making this world a better place which can be expressed through our interactions with others- being easy going, laid-back and once again, flexible. It’s a powerful skill to not overreact in certain situations but instead make the choice to let go and let flow.
There are some things you don’t have control over but in the end, you can choose to respond with compassionate understanding. Take a moment to step into someone else’s shoes. Inhale deeply to reset and step back from overreacting. During the exhale, let go of fear, anxiety and anything that doesn’t serve you. Remind yourself that everything will be ok if you let it be. Embrace your flexibility so you can be loving even when it’s new territory and uncomfortable.
Side note: This post was originally written for my fabulous friends over at the Kula Collective where they have a fabulous blog with great teachers doing awesome things all over the world, check them out here.