Travel and explore the world; fabulous. Wander the world; not so much. I’m not skilled at wandering. Wandering insinuates that one can go with the flow and see where it takes you, present in the moment. Wandering is hard for a planner, and even more challenging for an over-planner such as myself. It’s a bit of my nature, but also a result of my current life situation – Parenting. You have to plan ahead, you know, activities, meals and naps. It all takes a lot of forward thinking. I ALWAYS have an escape route mapped out that I am ready to engage BEFORE the meltdown happens. The problem is that all this over-planning has crept into the rest of my life. Speaking from personal experience, it leads to anxiety, and a fear of moving forward. It’s as if I need to know it all before I can make the next move. That’s no way to live…it can be paralyzing. I know there can be a balance. Where’s the joy in always knowing, or trying to know what happens in the end? If I read the last page of a book first (and trust me I want to) it’s not worth reading the book. By excessive planning and living in the future, I miss not opening myself up to the emotions, the experience, the story, and all the wonders of life that happen along the way. I need to practice wandering. What better place than at Wanderlust Colorado.
Copper Mountain is a quick hour and a half down the road from my home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. On the drive down, I set my intention for the weekend: to work on my ability to wander, to let go of expectations, not to plan and allow the weekend to unfold organically. Stepping away from the busyness of life, I sought to be more in the moment, be more rooted, and make way for clear thinking, which will then give me the ability to offer more of myself, of my gifts, to others.
There’s less oxygen in Copper Mountain than in Steamboat Springs as the elevation is quite a bit higher, ironically, the moment I stepped out of the car I could take a deeper breath. Life and stress challenge the breath a helluva lot more than altitude. There I was breathing deep once again and I didn’t even have to step onto my mat. Simply setting the intention in the car on the way over brought me back to the breath. I know better. I don’t have to allow the hectic and fast moving energy around me to move into me. But I’m human, and it does.My two days at Wanderlust consisted of many classes with amazing teachers like Janet Stone, Tiffany Cruikshank, and Rod Stryker. My body was tired but invigorated, sore but open. And yes, I wandered. I roamed about with presence, soaking it all in, even getting soaked in the rain (which came as great a relief, the rain poured down like a big sigh of letting go). I watched people, made new friends and felt the pulse of the community. I was “being” and moving at the pace of my own internal rhythm- much slower than I usually move in “real” life. I arrived to class on time (not ten minutes early). I sat in front. I sat in back, in the middle. I mixed it up and felt perfectly at ease doing so. I had the intention of letting go of expectation, of over-planning, and how it was supposed to be, how the teachers were supposed to be, and it was working. And yet, sometimes, I screwed up; I expected and resisted the moment I stepped into a Hanuman class, which of course inevitably leads up to the pose Hanumanasana. “I can’t do Hanumanasana. I have tight hamstrings.” Self-limiting thoughts pervade, but of course I can do Hanumanasana. It just might not be one they’d feature in Yoga Journal. There’s that humanness again. I’m not perfect, but I am alive. The teachers were all phenomenal and seemed to say exactly what I needed to hear. Tiffany Cruikshank enlightened us with her anatomy knowledge and timely nuggets of spiritual wisdom. My favorite was something along the lines of…“It’s not about perfecting the pose but instead finding space and freedom from suffering within it. It’s not about perfecting life, but instead finding space and freedom from suffering within it.” Janet Stone led us through a deep and grounding flow with lots of Bhakti, humor, and great storytelling, all to the mixed beats of DJ Drez. Janet reminded us that Ganesh is the remover of our perceived obstacles, a.k.a the way we think things are supposed to be, expectation and perfection. (Bowing humbly to you Ganesh!) And class with Rod Stryker, a brilliant man who articulates the ancient principles and ideals of yoga in such an accessible way. He makes it seem so simple (and maybe it really is?)… “Yoga is about stopping the suffering and connecting with something, “ explains Rod. “Asana is just the first chapter- an awesome first step that leads to much, much more.” What a journey, a true wanderlust. Thank you to the teachers- for putting themselves out there and sharing their gifts, for teaching asana, breathwork, bandhas, yogic philosophy, but most importantly, for sharing in their own authentic and unique way. There is not one way to share this practice. When authentic, rooted in always being a student, and when it comes from the heart, it is perfect, or rather, perfectly imperfect. Why should one EXPECT it to be any different? And thank you to Wanderlust and the creators, for bringing us all together and allowing us to see that we are not alone on this journey.
I am as much humbled and in awe of the teachers and the experience as I am inspired and motivated to continue down this path and to share what I have learned. I step back into life, evolving and feeling more present in each moment, and as silly as it sounds, realizing that I need to schedule in time to wander. I haven’t perfected it- and I’m OK with that. I continue to practice slowing down, being present, and freeing myself from expectation, on my mat, and in life.
“There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Alan Cohen
About The AuthorCristen Malia lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where she gets to frolic in the Rocky Mountains and share yoga with others. Originally drawn to the practice of yoga to help open and lengthen her body counteracting the tightness that comes along with an active lifestyle, she now realizes it is so, so much more. She attributes yoga to helping her through all challenges, giving her tools to find her breath within the craziness of life. Cristen’s classes are invigorating and dynamic, flowing with the breath, giving one the power to stay present and engaged in the moment while staying relaxed in the flow of life. Always a student and humbled by the practice, Cristen is so honored and grateful to be able to share the many benefits of yoga, and to support one in finding a connection and opening their heart. She bows humbly to all of her teachers in life, especially her two young boys whom she practices with daily, and Rusty Wells whom she has completed 300+ hours of study with. Work hard, have fun, be kind- it’s that easy.
Next Stop Wanderlust Tahoe: July 26 – 29, 2012
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