Relocating is great. It means you’re discovering new things almost every day. Just walking in the city centre makes me go “oh” and “ah” at every corner. I’m observing nicely carved features on building facades. How the afternoon sun is reflected in the glass windows of the office tower across the road. How the cappuccino at the local eatery is prepared – with so much love! How people smile at strangers, for no reason at all except that they’re happy.
Of course we can take this to the yoga room.
Observing how yoga is practised and taught on another continent provided me with the amazing and rare opportunity to challenge my preconceived ideas. Yes, certain postures are done differently here. And different postures altogether are done here. Teachers put together sequences I hadn’t seen before and give different verbal cues to guide students through them. At the same time my students tell me they’re getting fresh ideas for their home practice from my classes.
It’s just so inspiring – for BOTH sides!
So what’s my point? Well, after being terribly overwhelmed for about a month, paying attention to every detail, be it the people, the architecture, the customs and habits – I realised that I had entirely lost this capability at home. I wasn’t able anymore to be impressed with my city. To let the place form an impression on me – to let the city impress its image on me, every day again. I had my preconceived ideas about what my home town “was like” and could summarize it in two sentences for anyone who cared to know.
I didn’t look at the place anymore. I just looked at the image I had of it. Watching tourists walking around London with their guide books always made me smile – they were discovering the city, how exciting!, I thought. But as far as I was concerned, well, I had seen it all.
Really? Had I seen it all? Constantly reassuring myself that there was no need to look at things I had already seen once, I lost my capability to take a fresh look. It took moving to another continent to find it back. I realised that no actual change happening in my city could really change my image of it.
The thought scared me – could this be true for other things in my life as well? How about my friends? Have they changed without me acknowledging the change? How many people talk about “reinventing themselves” when moving abroad? Does that mean it can’t happen at home because as adults we lost the capability to adjust our idea of things (and people!) to a changed reality?
Again, taking this onto the mat -
How can we approach a posture we’ve done hundreds (thousands?) of times in a new, fresh way? How can we observe how the posture actually feels TODAY, and not how we think it should feel according to memory? How can we try hand stand without preconceived ideas, not thinking: ‘Oh I’ve tried so many times and always failed…’
Next time I go back to the place where I grew up I’ll buy a guide-book, take a good friend with me and have a tourist weekend in my city!
How about you? What’s your secret for constantly taking a fresh look at things?
You might like: Yoga in India – it’s not what you think!