Lessons from Nepal #4 - Flat is Boring

While staying in Nepal, our guide frequently encouraged us to hire a cab to get around during our daily excursions.  We frequently complied with his request, as it was quick and provided work for the cab driver, but occasionally we opted to walk.  Our guide reluctantly complied with our wishes, often leading us through fascinating business and residential areas.  We were thrilled to watch the locals going about their daily lives and slow down to really see Nepali life.  Our guide was not impressed with these decisions, so we finally asked why he didn't like to walk.  "Flat is boring" was his reply.  Makes sense, the man does make his living as a trekking guide.  Flat walking did not offer panoramic views or cardiovascular challenge.  In cardiology, flat line refers to being dead and without a pulse.  Time to get off the flat line.

Moderate challenges did reward us with breathtaking views and new experiences.  By stepping out of our comfort zone and confronting slippery paths, leeches, and questionable roads, we were rewarded with the experience of a lifetime.  It is often like that in yoga as well.  When you are willing to step just beyond your comfort zone, amazing things can happen.  

In practice and in life, you need to experience both the flat lines and the uphill battles.  You need a moment to pause and reflect, and a moment to power through a challenge.  This is why there is more than one style of yoga.  We can't spend our entire practice resting in shavasana or sitting in meditation, but we can't spend the entire time giving 100% physical effort either.  

The challenge is to be happy with whatever life is throwing at you.  Can you enjoy that flat and easy path as well as the uphill battle?  Can you balance the rest and the work?  Try finding the balance between the sthira (strength and steadiness) and sukha (ease, relaxation, joy).  This is our challenge, and it is the work of a lifetime.

Namaste - Beth


Dealing with the Unexpected

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured
— B.K.S. Iyengar

The unexpected isn't always avoidable, but a regular yoga practice will help you deal with it.  You'll become less reactionary, connect with yourself, and live in the present moment.  This can result in an improved experience for yourself, and those around you. 

While traveling earlier this month, our first flight was delayed and we missed our connecting flight.  The seasoned airline employee was less than sympathetic to put it mildly.  The 6 travelers who missed the flight were assigned alternate travel arrangements.  Arriving at the gate just 2 minutes earlier would have saved us 2.5 hours, and we were all feeling unhappy about our situation.  A few simple questions can demonstrate how to handle the situation yogically.

Question #1 - Can this be cured?

Answer #1 - Nope, the attendant at the gate did not have the authority to open the door and let us take the flight.

Question #2 - How can this be endured?

Answer #2 - A meal did wonders for our moods.  We found our new gate, then my husband and son played a game while I set out to explore the airport.

I was delighted to discover an airport yoga studio.  It was a simple space, decorated with plants and silhouettes of yoga poses.  It was located just off a quiet hallway between terminals.  There were yoga videos to stream, mats to borrow, a privacy screen, and a logbook to sign.  Airport yoga studios have been reported at San Francisco International Airport, Burlington International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Albuquerque International Sunport,  Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.  I highly recommend using these spaces while you are traveling.  It can make a flight much more enjoyable, and healthier too!  If you have experienced others, please comment in the section following this post.

Upon completion of our final flight, we were once again delayed, and folks around me were frantically attempting to position themselves to quickly exit the airplane.  My family and I were waiting for them to pass, and you could feel the nervous tension building in the air.  Imagine my surprise when a woman across the aisle suggested that we chant Om as a remedy to the situation.  Instead of participating in the anxiety, I was able to have a very nice conversation with this California Yogi while we allowed others to go first.  The things that I would have missed by getting caught up in the nervous tension.  Talk about finding a way to endure!  

In yoga, we practice maintaining our breath and focus in difficult situations and poses.  We practice turning inward instead of comparing ourselves to others.   This helps teach us to deal with our daily lives, and acts as a shock absorber for the little bumps that come along the way. It leads to a lower stress, more enjoyable life experience.  

Next time you're dealing with the unexpected, ask can this be cured, and how can this be endured?

Namaste - Beth