I just returned from taking a group to Cuba for a Yoga + Cultural Adventure. And what an adventure it was!! In order to share the immensity of what I learned, saw, felt, experienced… I decided to start at the beginning and send you a bit each week.
I hope you enjoy this peek into the magical, musical, mesmerizing island of Cuba!
Lesson #1: You must wait.
Our group of 15 adventurous yogis and yoginis arrived ensemble on a flight from Cancun to Havana. We excitedly awaited our bags. After an hour, when the carousel began to move, our bags didn’t appear. The folks who had arrived from Madrid gathered their bags and left. We waited. Then the folks who arrived from Paris gathered their bags and left. We waited. Then the folks who arrived from Berlin gathered their bags and left. We waited. Our group leader, a spunky American married to a Cuban, inquired about our bags. She was told: “You must wait.”
This is when the true practice of yoga happens. It’s the choice to be present to ourselves and not escape with distractions or substances. Just be present. Breath and mind. Body and soul.
It reminds me of this quote from Sue Monk Kidd’s “When the Heart Waits”
“What has happened to our ability to dwell in the unknowing, to live inside a question and coexist with the tensions of uncertainty? Where is our willingness to incubate pain and let it birth something new? What has happened to patient unfolding, to endurance? These things are what form the ground of waiting.”
And so we began our Cuban Yoga Adventure. Our patient group stretched, meditated, chatted and endured FIVE HOURS waiting for bags and then celebrated with gusto when they arrived.
On our first morning we had the great pleasure and honor to take a yoga class with the Godfather of Yoga in Cuba, Eduardo Pimentel (I’ll tell you more about him in another installment.) He opened class by saying “I hear you already began your yoga practice in baggage claim last night. That is yoga. Learning to find compassion in every situation.”
On our last 2 days we headed to the beach. Enthusiastically, we loaded ourselves into 2 small buses. In less than a block, one of the buses broke down – a situation that in our former, fast-paced lives would have irritated and frustrated us. But by this point, our yogic practice of waiting had transformed us. Irritation and frustration were replaced with laughter and dance. (It didn’t hurt that the bus driver had been trained in yoga while in the military. He told us dance and yoga are both good for increasing prana and opening chakras!)
There it was. The fruit of our yoga practice: an automatic response of laughter and dance in the face of being inconvenienced.
It may seem like a small thing, but think about it. How much better would your life be if your automatic response to inconveniences was to laugh and dance? (Tweet it)
My wish for all of us is to be able to do just that.
Here’s to more laughter and dance in your life,