Lose The Plan and Just GO!

YS22FB message from pal/fellow yoga teacher Annie: “Hey Shan, Beth and I are attending a master class Saturday morning in Philly – come along!”

FB response: “Uh…um, I gotta think about it.” Or something along those lines. Here’s the weird thing. I totally wanted to go. Had no schedule conflicts, no objections from anyone else, no fear of big shot teacher Mark White (I’ve done his podcasts, he’s great), no nothing. So why the hesitation? Why the 24-hour delay until replying, “I’m in, Annie!”

Because spontaneity just doesn’t come easy for this plan-ahead girl. In just about every area of life, I first consider, then prepare, consider again, prepare some more, and finally I go. In yoga, in life, I do this.  And more often than not, it’s a serious kill-joy.

These jeans, no the leggings instead, yes these jeans and that sweater, no I like the navy blue hoodie better, and an hour later than should have taken, I’m finally ready to go. To this Starbucks.  No wait a minute…that one a mile further, I like the banquettes and high ceilings better.

In Mark’s class Saturday, sandwiched between fired up, sweaty yogis inches apart at Hotbox Yoga breathing and flowing together for nearly two hours, I got caught in a serious plan-ahead-be-damned way of being: “Warrior One! Chatturanga! Upward Facing Dog! Downward Facing Dog!!” In one breath. No amount of planning was going to get me through this sequence at this ridiculously fast pace. What’s he doing? I inwardly screamed. “Crow! Fly back! Crow again!!” And on it went. As chaotic as the class appeared at times, I later realized the brilliance behind his teaching. There was no plan! He watched us, interacted with us, sensed where we needed to grow, and tapped into it in such way that will resonate with me forever.

“Ha! Control freaks just love this!” he chuckled. He obviously knew none of us were going to complete 7 poses in a single breath, and that was the point. To get us out of our controlling minds and into our bodies. He brought my plan-ahead way of doing things to a screeching halt.

And it felt absolutely amazing.

Such freedom and joy in not knowing what to expect. Not knowing what was coming next. Complete permission to move sloppily, laugh hard, sweat all over my neighbors mats and collapse out of poses I normally nailed with ease.

Yoga, to me, is a reminder that to be spontaneous, and accept the unexpected, is to truly live. As much as I try to anticipate what’s coming, plan for the next pose, the next breath, it never works out that way. And that is what keeps this practice so fascinating, at times so frustrating, and yet so powerful. It reminds me that more often than not, I need to drop the plan and just GO.


That’s not the end of your story

Hawks undraftedphoto (39)It’s been a week now since my hometown team won the Super Bowl. In the course of that time, nine inches of snow dumped in a single day. Power went kaput for over half a million people. Three yoga classes got cancelled. News stories showed winter worn sour pusses brawling over shoveled out parking spaces. It’s a little ugly out here in the winter not-so-wonderland.

And yet. I’m still basking in the glow of this Super Bowl win. Still parading around the Greater Philly area (and ‘who the f*** cares who won? Our Eagles were out of it) clad in Seahawks hoody, beanie and larger than normal grin. If I were a rapid football fan who actually understood the nuances of this complicated game (that score in the first two minutes on a safety? Huh? What’s that??), I suppose it could be expected that I’d still be relishing in our victory one week later. But I’m not. Plays, penalties, pass percentages – all that business is usually way over my head. I just see players ramming into each other and a ball that somehow makes its way between the posts. No, the joy I’m feeling now, one week later, is really about this:

What happens when a player says, I’m not quitting.

I expected my elation to wane as the week dragged on. After the images of a city awash in green and blue faded away, after my FB scroll went from exciting game images and player profiles to the usual selfies and what I had for lunch photos, I thought for sure I’d move on too. But I kept coming back to what Super Bowl MVP and Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith shared with interviewers post game:

“That’s not the end of your story.” This was his big shout out to all the other players left out of the NFL scouting combine. “You keep on playin’. Keep on believin’.”

We hear this sort of thing a lot from players. But coming from him it felt different. Genuine. This was a guy who kept on playin’, kept on believin’, in spite of everyone who overlooked him.

And he wasn’t alone. Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, and Brandon Browner kept on playin’, kept on believin’, too. In spite of not being drafted. And then there’s Richard Sherman…a 5th round pick.

I’m elated, a full 7 days later, because of a group of guys who played their asses off, again and again, and yanked the spotlight out of its comfort zone and shone it where it belonged on Super Bowl Sunday: on the guys that refused to end their story. Kept on playin’. Kept on believin’. 

There will always be the Peytons, the LeBrons, the Miguel Cabreras portraying their talent and grace for legions of fans to ooh and aah over, but I am more interested in the guy or girl who comes from outta nowhere. That’s the one I can identify with.

I got laughed at by some people for participating in organized gymnastics in high school. Not exactly a sport for a 5’9″ (and a half!) girl towering over her team mates. But I did it anyway. While I didn’t exactly rack up the points, I learned some basic skills then that have developed into a strong and graceful yoga practice today. I may not be a gymnast, but that experience, of playing, believing, in spite of the naysayers, led me to a fabulous life of teaching and practicing yoga today. 

And that’s a story to be continued.