Going with the flow is easier said than done sometimes. Being able to shift and adapt can be an art. In coaching we call it dancing in the moment, in yoga it’s being present, in phoenix rising yoga therapy there is no plan it’s just what’s happening now, and some may even think of it as flying by the seat of your pants. It’s something some people are born with, but you can learn it as well.
By nature I am a planner and I personally love being that way; it works for me. Before each class, retreat, and workshop, I make a plan. If I’m teaching an asana class, I like to know my theme and have a basic structure of some key poses to cover. The plan I make isn’t super detailed but rather a basic outline for me to keep in mind. Depending on who shows up in my classes that day, the plan I have made may go out the window. But since I have an understanding of the basic idea that I want to get across in class, I can dance in the moment and go with the flow.
Planning gives me the confidence to go with the flow depending on who I am that day and what types of students arrive in my classes, workshops, and coaching. Having a loose structure or theme or understanding allows me to flow naturally. The key I have found is not attaching to my plans. If I wrote down a full sequence and I forgot a pose or added a new one then I’m fine with that – I have to be because it often happens that I forget the sequence the moment I start teaching! I allow the classes to form themselves organically. In a restorative class the flow is slower, but no matter what the type or level of class, there is a structure to how the body, mind and breath are introduced to a theme. The body is heated, the breath connects, and the mind calms as poses and concepts build on each other, stitching themselves together like a well-written story.
The same is true in life. We all plan our lives – each day, week, month and year has a plan and somehow we like to be able to tell a story about how it all fits together. But as we often encounter, sometimes life just happens independent of whatever idea we have in store for it, and our plans go out the window! The Guest House by Rumi illustrates this point quite nicely:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi ~
(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)
I am a planner in classes and in life. Plans help us find comfort and security in our tasks – plans make the future seem less daunting and actually give us a starting point that makes it easier to go with the flow, just as long as we don’t get too caught up in the plan itself! So I often find that having a plan makes it is easier for me to let go and flow in the classroom. Resisting the changes that pop up only creates issues. Each day there is a new arrival and it is how we react to those arrivals that color our world. Welcome and entertain them all, because not everything can be planned.
Since going with the flow isn’t something that comes naturally to me I have adapted it to work for my personality. I plan, and then I am able to go with the flow. Eventually I believe I will truly go with the flow, but for now I work my flow this way. Some ways I invite this idea into my life are in my home asana practice, I give it the freedom to become whatever form it requires at the moment. I also try to plan nothing at least one day a week – no classes, no plans with friends, no tasks to complete. I find that this one-day of following what may come relaxes me.
Take one day a week to do nothing. Make no plans. Don’t set an alarm, just wake up and let the day take you.
May we all live light, because everything is already okay.