Remember what it was like to be a kid?
At some point, whether it was forced upon us or just the natural progression of life, we have had to get serious and “grow up”.
Stopping to watch ants go by was no longer an option. Falling down while running or climbing, too scary and embarrassing to even imagine happening.
Yet… gee, it sure was fun.
Got a yoga mat?
Welcome to your playground
Whilst yoga is so much of an opportunity for personal growth and practice, it can also be thought of as a playground for freedom, pretend, falling, and laughing with yourself.
Too often we walk into a yoga class with serious face syndrome. We roll out our yoga mat claiming our spatial boundaries.
We side-eye the person next to us as if the olympic competition of yoga has just begun. We will be damned if the person next to us is going to steal our gold.
My educated yoga teacher response to this kind of thinking is, hell no!
Let it go!
Let your yoga mat be the one place you are not competing in life. Turn that seriousness into self expression! Release the child within! Show your passion for life!
Mostly, have fun!
I promise you you will find so much more length, strength and mobility if you let go of the idea that you have to hit the landing in Mountain pose.
Of course, this may be easier said than done.
Here are six tips on being a kid in your yoga practice today:
1. Let go of the idea of perfect alignment:
Get rid of the idea that alignment is a vital part of your yoga practice.
Alignment is a goal, not the end all.
Listen for the the alignment cues and make little tiny movements to adjust. Ease into the new information that your body is being giving and then let it all go!
2. Let your practice be a journey:
Remember, everyone’s body is different.
What may not happen today may happen tomorrow.
This is your journey.
Nobody tells they their story better than you. Also, nobody tells their journey in two sentences.
Once upon a time I stood on my head. The end.
Give me the good stuff. What did it take to get there?
3. Let your teacher do the adjusting:
When a yoga teacher comes over to adjust you, let them adjust you.
Do not start to move your hands, unless it is causing you some discomfort. Keep your hands or feet or back or belly where it already is.
Let them guide you, move you, open you up. They may have just come over to make a tiny adjustment that will help you go deeper or feel the pose in a different way.
Keep your body parts where they are when you see those yoga teacher’s toes.
Free your heart and mind, and allow your body to flow through their adjustment. Imagine what would happen if you were playing twister and on the next player’s move you decided to take your right hand off green!
4. Show off your grill:
Smile as much as you can throughout your practice.
Even if you don’t mean it. It will grow on you!
Here is a simple yoga practice do right now: Draw the left and right corners of your mouth up towards your cheeks and breathe into your heart.
Smile like nobody’s watching!
Give yourself this little gift of joy throughout your practice, a secret love note to yourself.
See what happens next! It may turn into a great day (hint, hint).
5. Pretend you are a dancer:
If you watch a dancer on stage you will notice that they are transitioning from pose to pose, linking movements, reaching out with their heart, fingers and toes drawing into themselves with passion. No part of the stage seems untouched by them.
What would it be like to be a dancer on your yoga mat?
Make your yoga practice a dance, allowing yourself to move fluidly from pose to pose without thinking. Let your heart guide you through your practice and turn off the thinking mind. You’re a star baby!
6. You can do it:
Don’t be intimidated but what seems impossible to you.
In yoga, the goal is not perfection. It’s freedom.
If you are locked into the idea that crow pose or an arm balance is something you will never be able to attain, then you probably won’t. So, shake that off.
Do it! Now! You got this!
Try the pose out, fall a few times, laugh and try the pose again!
Come on, you used to climb trees. And, it has nothing to do with age.
When you were 7 you were not thinking, “Yeah my body and bones are so flexible I can climb that tree.” No! You just said. “Tree”! Skilled or not, you climbed it.
What am I getting at? When you see a new pose, let your body do the thinking and your heart do the climbing.
Try these tips out. Add to them to your practice and enjoy them.
Pretty soon they will become a habit and your yoga mat will have you swinging like a kid on the monkey bars.
I love working at the YMCA in my neighborhood is because students that enter my class already know these things and they are ready to have fun.
They know I’m going to include smile-asana in their practice.
They know that it’s going to be a silly time and that they will chat about it with their neighbors afterward.
They come in the class, not prepared for success, but prepared for fun. If you have fun in your yoga practice that is a gold medal in my book!
The light in me is honored by the light in you.
Thoughts and reflections by Christina Maldia RYT, CLMT