Are You Serious?!?! Approaching Your Yoga Practice as Play.
Posted Sep 15 2009 10:00pm
A few years back I went on a 10-day Vipassana retreat. The experience was a memorable one. I especially remember one of my fellow meditators in particular. I saw directly in front of her in the meditation hall and I would often see her as I was entering and exiting the hall. She was always smiling. As many struggled with discomfort -- both physical and mental -- this woman's smile shone like a beacon of light. The last morning of the retreat, I saw her beautific smile and couldn't help but smile myself. When the silence ended, I walked up to her and told her what an amazing smile she had and how her smile often uplifted me (although I must admit there were times I was a bit envious, wishing that I was feeling that joyful).
Last year I attended a yoga workshop and found myself in a similar position, except this time I was the complimentee rather than the complimentor. I kept my face free of tension with a small smile on my face through much of the practice. Apparently my happy demeanor attracted attention. One of the workshop attendees came up to me during a break and said "Wow, you look like you're having so much fun!"
How often do you smile during your yoga practice? Do you view your time on the mat as work or play time? I'm a big fan of playing on and off the mat. I'm a champion "time waster," and I often put play before work. While this sort of attitude is frowned upon in our culture, I stick with it because the benefits are many. Not only do I get more done with this approach, but I also have way more fun doing it!
Time and time again, I see yoga students with goals. Their practice is simply a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself. These folks are so focused on the destination that they muscle their way through the journey rather than enjoy it. Not only does their practice have the tone of a military operation, but it's void of fun, lightness, ease. Is your practice dis-eased?
In the spirit of play, I offer up two wonderful resources:
Asana shouldn't be a method of self flagellation. If you notice that you're beating yourself up for your form during asana, or if you don't smile all that much when you're on your mat, check out this wonderful video from Jason Crandell and the folks at Lulu Bandha's. It's a great reminder that we all fall and that we often to forget to laugh when we do. Being serious about our yoga practice doesn't mean that we have to have a serious demeanor throughout.