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?
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Categories: Inspiration, Yoga
Excellent post and reminder! I feel as though I’ve experienced this a bit in my own life recently. I moved cities, and though it wasn’t a huge move (from Cincinnati, OH to Harrisburg, PA), I really feel as though there’s been a HUGE change in me – all positive. My mood has improved, I feel more engaged and energized, I feel motivated, I feel more at peace, I feel more balanced. I’m not saying all of this happened BECAUSE I moved, but I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately – just how all of these subtle positive shifts seemed to happen within me right as we got ourselves settled in our new city and I’ve been wondering how it’s related…
I have not, however, considered how I might be able to approach certain yoga poses and sequences with a fresh, new view/perspective. I suppose I’ve only ever just paid attention to how I felt in that particular moment and acknowledged that through the poses. I’ve never actively tried to approach it with a new “eyes.”
Very intriguing post, thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for reading and many thanks for your comment!
Andrea, I love your blog! Great post.
I am currently teaching kindergarten and practicing yoga in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I found this quote while skimming through a Tao quote book that I found on the shelf in my yoga studio – and it is my answer to your question:
“The most mature response to the ways of the world is a childlike wonder.”
Working with 4-year-olds helps remind me to take notice of and appreciate the little things – and how beautiful and fascinating the world is!! Namaste
So true! Thanks for reading and for sharing this quote!
I use photography for this. It’s amazing what carrying a camera and forcing yourself to find ‘interesting’ does to change your perception of the place you live in. I used to live in a city in Shenzhen and I never appreciated the beauty in it until I started photographing it.
Yes! Love this! Really makes me think about how many different moments throughout the day that I already have a preconception of how it will go, that many times I am just going through the motions. Always good to be reminded of the importance of being present. Thanks!
gosh, what a great post. Do we see what is actually in front of us or our idea of it? Probably the latter…mindfulness is the key, right 🙂
Real place to spend hours of time is within the self …….
so many places to visit ….!!!!!
It’s easy to become jaded, and just stop noticing or feeling things. Both yoga and mindfulness meditation have been the perfect antidote to this for me: by being fully in the present chances are you will be more aware of what’s truly going on rather than being on auto pilot and YOUR IDEA of what surrounds you and what is happening. And I feel it most in the small things… when I walk out and feel the now crisp air entering my nostrils, when I bite into a strawberry, when the horses lick the palm of my hand after I’ve given them a treat.
I guess relocating is a like a shock to the system (I’ve relocated first to the US from Argentina, and now to the UK). It can be a bit scary, but it also gives us a chance to rediscover ourselves and how we relate to those around us and our surroundings.
I have nominated you for the lovely blog award. 🙂
Please on the the following link for info. http://inkarasworld.com/2012/09/12/nominated-one-lovely-blog-award/
FanTAStic post. And just what I needed to hear, right now. Thank you! OM OM OM. h*
The way I try to get a fresh look at things is by asking someone else about the topic/problem/belief/situation – that way I get it from someone elses set of eyes and try to understand and view it from their viewpoint. As for yoga – I am still fresh off the boat – and have not got to the “routine” yet, but once I get there I will most likely get back to your above post and try to remind myself of how to get new inspiration!
Love this post. It’s so easy for us to take for granted that which is familiar. I’ve spent my summer celebrating the small pleasures of my little corner of the world on my blog and it’s made me appreciate my home so much more.
Great post… I had to share it!
Reblogged this on In Kara's World and commented:
Thanks Andrea for the reminder… “Do we still allow ourselves to be surprised by…everyday life?” Make me think what am I missing everyday because I am not really observing what is around me, what I am walking by or who I am walking by.
It is quite difficult but definitely possible.. may be living in the moment REALLY might help feel everything new and fresh.. or do as if it’s your first time.. (may be minus mistakes).
Andrea- I love this reminder! I think it’s so important to find those places on and off the mat where we notice the small shifts in how we’ve changed or grown- and maybe to be surprised by it. Fresh eyes. And for me that takes an open heart and mind- when I shut off my thinking (hard, hard, hard) and just experience with openness and surrender to the experience, the entire moment opens up and I can be present. Not easy- and it’s reminders like this post that help so much. Today I think I’ll take my yoga practice to the park- that should do it!
Do we still allow ourselves to be (that!!??) surprised by everyday life?