During teacher training, one of my instructors offered an analogy to help us better understand the differences between the three doshas, or Ayurvedic constitutions.
It had to do with airports.
At the time, airports didn’t seem very relevant to our yogic learning, but it was fun, so we all played along to see if our answers aligned with the dosha test we’d just taken in our manuals.
Here’s the scenario: You’re in an airport, ready to fly somewhere important. Twenty minutes before boarding, your flight is canceled. The idea is, how you handle the situation sheds light on how much pitta, vata and kapha you have in you.
You jump on your phone to rant and rave, then head to the bar. Hi there, pitta.
You wander around, buy a coffee or an ice cream, take a seat and chill to wait out the chaos. Kapha to a tee.
You frantically run around talking to every person and every agent in an attempt to get on the next plane. True vata-style.
Who you are—how you are composed—provides an insight into how you handle change, physically and mentally.
Living with my father’s brain injury has been a constant practice in handling change. Living in New York City, or any other volatile high-pressure metropolis, is also a constant practice. Living as a dedicated yogi and new teacher, where one day on the mat is never the same as the next, is yet more practice.
Lately, I’ve been feeling confident in my practice of finding a balance that helps me navigate changes.
Then, came last Friday. I was prepped and prepared, en route to Louisville from JFK. Skies on both ends were blue, and I was—shockingly—on time. Just as I got to my gate, I looked up at the board: Canceled. As was every other flight in that direction.
After all my careful practice in dealing with change, what did I do?
I lost my sh*t.
Because as much as I’m a yogi, as much as I’m the strong daughter of a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) survivor, all I wanted to do on Friday afternoon was get from New York to Kentucky.
I’m a pitta-vata person, (airport or no airport), so I promptly called three people, cursing about the paralyzing situation of having no outbound flight.
Then, I contemplated the bar.
Then, I took a breath and considered that Delta Flight 6037 was merely an expectation that would best be served by releasing it.
It was just another lesson in realizing that no matter how much we prepare and how much we tell ourselves we’re going in one direction, there is no guarantee that we are. No matter how much we look for the constant in things, the only constant is change. If we remember that, we can roll with it, (even if we bitch and moan at first).
I found my solution at the Delta phone bank. A nice woman named April was also trying to get to Louisville. April had an Infiniti. I had gas money.
In many cases—brain injury, yoga injuries, job loss, flight cancellations, you name it—change can be much more stressful than exciting.
But, it’s how you handle it that shapes your next adventure.
I’m a yoga teacher in Brooklyn. I am currently working on publishing my first novel and also creating a place where yoga and brain injury professionally meet. Concerning the latter, I am certain that a yoga practice will not only help survivors of traumatic brain injury, but also their families. As I practice with my father (a brain injury survivor) my family and I are learning that yoga not only helps his mobility, but also his mind.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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