Recently, at the Yoga Journal Conference in Colorado, I took a class with Desiree Rumbaugh. I’d never taken her class before, but I heard her speak at the Being Yoga Conference at Omega, and I just loved her. Her class at the Yoga Journal Conference was called “Stepping into the Flow” – and little did I know I was about to experience what it meant to step into the flow of life.
Desiree opened the class by telling us that she really had to go with the flow for this class, because she usually teaches alignment-based classes instead of vinyasa flow classes. If you’re new to yoga, this means that she usually takes the time to stop between poses and explain how your posture should be aligned, instead of moving quickly from pose to pose. She told us that sometimes it’s hard for her to go with the flow of a class, so this was a nice challenge for her.
Stepping into the flow, Desiree said, is about:
- Going with the flow of what’s happening in life instead of resisting your reality.
- Learning to grow, change and adapt.
- Trying new things, getting out there and surfing the wave of life.
- Letting your inner power lead you instead of letting your head tell you no.
I always love this concept, but it was actually ironic how much I was forced to practice this throughout the class. How? Well…surprisingly, it was the music.
Desiree played 3 songs that made me really uncomfortable. The first song was one that very strongly reminded me of my ex. In fact, I had never even heard this specific song before in my life except for on a playlist he put together for me, so when it came on in class it kind of hit me in this strange way. You know those songs that come on the radio or your iPod and you turn them off immediately because you don’t want to feel whatever they make you feel? Well, since I was in a yoga class, I couldn’t turn off the song (I guess I could have, but that would have been super weird and control freakish). My immediate reaction was actually to get up from the class and go hide in the bathroom for a few minutes so I could avoid the song. Instead, after about a minute of planning my escape, I just chose to go with the theme of the class, not resist my reality and just step into the flow of it. I surrendered, let the tears that burned behind my eyes spill onto my mat (again) and just went with it. And even though those few minutes felt painful, I was ok. I didn’t spontaneously combust because I allowed myself to be present with a song that made me sad.
The next song that came on was one that reminded me of a friend who passed away. Normally, I wouldn’t just sit and listen to that song either because it brings up sad memories. But when this song came on, I actually just smiled through my teary eyes and shook my head, because I realized the lesson I was being coaxed to learn in this class. I had no choice but to adapt, to stop resisting what’s uncomfortable for me, and to surf the wave of emotion that is life – riding out the good feelings as well as the unpleasant ones.
And to top it off, the next song was a song that I just downright don’t like at all. It’s the one song that I actually cringe when I listen to it. I think I laughed out loud when that one came on. At this point, it was just getting silly. And again, I just flowed with it. Kept going.
One of the last songs Desiree played, right at the end of class, was “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” I mean, I couldn’t agree more, at that point. As I was lying on my mat, I couldn’t believe the wave I had just ridden throughout that one yoga class. Not only was my body challenged, but my mind and emotions were put through the wringer too. I know, it’s just music and I didn’t have to go through any serious emergency or anything…but our own inner dramas can really seem quite serious when we’re in the thick of them. Right?
This is one of the reasons yoga is so transformative (for me) – it forces me to go places. There are some classes where I walk out feeling like a different person than when I walked in. As Seane Corn once said, “If you’re doing yoga just to get in shape, there are plenty of ways to get in shape that are a lot less emotionally confrontational.”
Oh, and this totally isn’t a knock on Desiree’s playlist at all. She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever taken a class with, and the playlist was totally necessary for me to really get the whole concept of the class. She’s awesome. And if anybody knows about stepping into the flow of life, it’s her.
We’re faced with experiences, big and small, that force us to grow, change, adapt and go with the flow every day. We can’t always control our environment as much as we’d love to. And even though it might not be our instinct, going with the flow of life is a lot easier than resisting it. Especially if you have the tendency to be a control freak. 😉