Friday, September 4, 2015

Twisting through uncertainty

by Franzi Priemer, September 2015 200 hour Bali Yoga Teacher Training student


Finally, I arrive at the airport, ready to leave my home. I say goodbye to the friend who's kindly dropping me off. I'm alone and ready for my departure to Bali. I board the plane, stow my carry ons, take my seat and take a deep breath. I am looking back on weeks filled not only of packing boxes, but also filled with thoughts, discussions, emotions and stress. Ready to start the next chapter. But circumstances intervene, and my carefully laid plans take a new turn.

Twist of fate

Just as I was thinking - "Finally! I have done it!" - I hear the flight attendant announcing on the PA system that everyone has to deboard the plane. The reason: "technical problems." Fixing said problems will take around three hours. The other passengers' reactions are unsurprising: a mixture of grumbling, worry, anxiety and annoyance. Leaving the airplane, I too have mixed feelings. Disappointment, because I thought I was finally starting my adventure. I also feel uncertainty creep in, and wonder if I'll still be able to catch my connecting flight from Hong Kong to Bali. Lastly, impatience and restlessness. I can neither sit down and relax nor read or write or concentrate on anything to keep me busy. So instead, I walk around, watching the other passengers, nothing to do, nowhere to go. I realize that I'm totally out of the habit of being idle. The last few weeks were packed with activity and socializing, running from meeting to meeting. And now, I'm stranded at the airport with the unaccustomed feeling of being alone and without something to do.

Twist of spine

After an hour of useless restlessness, I decide to give reading another try. I dig out a newspaper article about the growing Yoga culture in Germany. The subject is fascinating. I read about a man who met Sivananda in India in the 1930's and brought Yoga back to Germany. He called it 'physical Indian training', because the word "Yoga" wasn't yet common in Germany. I read some interviewees' experiences with Yoga, explaining their motivation and speaking about the great enrichment their practice has been. I share their sentiments and start to think about my own physical practice over the last few weeks. To be honest, it has taken a back seat to all the craziness, and I am hoping that I can start my 200 hour yoga teacher training without problems on Saturday (and still to be able to move on Sunday). Reading and thinking about Yoga, I begin to calm down. I feel the need to move in my seat. I stretch my arms, change my sitting position and begin to feel more balanced and relaxed. I stand up and do some forward folds and light twists and feel the restlessness subside. I am using my mind to calm my body, and using my body to calm my mind.

It's such a gift that Yoga can be practiced everywhere. It's portable knowledge that you can use whenever and wherever you are. Even - or especially - at the airport, a place full of sounds, faces and distractions. And not only with some physical poses, but also by calming down your thoughts, accepting a twist of fate and beating the restlessness with some twists of your spine. 

Hours later, I am still sitting at the airport. I don't know when my flight will depart, but I face the uncertainty with equanimity. I feel exhausted and tired but also happy and light. It doesn't matter when the flight takes off. My journey has begun, and I know I will arrive -  sooner or later. 

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