UnRule #5 - Expect the Unexpected (3:57 audio)
Un-Rule #5: Expect the Unexpected
These un-rules have a sort of domino effect. while un-rules 1-4 are things you can actively DO, number five is a result, something that happens as an effect of setting the right conditions with un-rules 1-4. When I put rules 1-4 in place, my practice becomes a moving meditation, where amazing and unexpected things I couldn’t even plan come to happen.
I have now come to expect the unexpected to happen on the mat, and that has become the most exciting thing about my home practice. Every day, I step on my mat with a sense of wonder. What am I gonna learn or experience or feel today?
Let me offer you an example. Once, feeling particularly dense and heavy, I got to my mat and collapsed in child’s pose. I honestly thought that was all I would be able to do that day. Feeling particularly tight in my shoulders, I knew I wanted thread the needle pose, but I felt even too heavy (or lazy) to come up to my hands and knees, much less raise my arm up to the sky. And then, the unexpected happened. I discovered a new pose. I tucked my elbow under my child’s pose body, turned my cheek to the floor, and let my shoulder collapse to the floor. Ahhhh. Bliss. While laying there with my cheek pressed against the floor, I felt like a baby with my face on my mama’s chest, Mother Earth’s breast. It felt SOOO GOOD! My lazy version of thread the needle, which was a hybrid of child’s pose and fetal position was something I never expected to happen, and has now become a staple in the beginning of almost every practice. That first day, I stayed in infant pose for several minutes each side. It felt so nurturing to my dense and heavy body. After nearly ten minutes, my breath deepened, and I felt so supported that I eventually wanted to push up onto all fours. I don’t remember what happened after that, but it didn’t matter, I’d discovered a new pose that I had never seen in any books or been taught in any class. It became my go-to pose for those days I felt vulnerable, weak, dense, heavy, lonely, fatigued, worried, anxious, confused, overwhelmed, and well, the list goes on.
My point in this story is that every single day that I get on my mat alone, when I consciously practice the first four un-rules, something magically unexpected happens.
For well over a decade, I’ve kept a yoga practice journal. In the beginning I kept notes on the sequences and insights I learned from teachers in classes and on podcasts. When I started teaching, and practicing to my own podcasts, my journal was filled with things I saw in the bodies and auras of my students. When my practice shifted to being almost exclusively self-guided, my journals changed as well. Like when Dorothy’s house landed in the Land of Oz and the munchkins started coming out of their hiding places, my journals turned to techni-color after I entered Yoga Wonderland.
My yogi’s log is a tiny notebook I keep next to my mat. I usually start a practice by noting the mood and feelings I bring to the mat, and then after the practice (and sometimes during) I’ll scribble insights and inspirations and unexpected happenings. Sometimes they turn into more elaborate journal entries of deeper insights and revelations about life and spirit. On any given day when my yoga practice isn’t enough to pull me out of a funk, a few minutes of flipping through the pages of my yogi’s logs always help me to remember the mystical magic that is my body, my mind, and my life.