Mindful awareness

Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Nothing too Seriously

What better day than Halloween to remember to make time for play? We often get caught up with all the responsibilities we have with our many roles at home and work. Even on the yoga mat we tend to be serious as we are mindfully moving body with the breath. But we aren’t going to solve the world’s problems by holding a difficult pose for 10 breaths. The best we can do is to be present as we attempt every pose we practice. We need to laugh and be silly when it doesn’t quite turn out as we expected. So this week we are finding more playfulness in our practice. It’s difficult to move from ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) to parivrtta ardha chandrasana (revolved half moon pose) and back again. It’s easy to fall out and it’s ok to laugh when we do! There is no reason to get upset about losing balance during the difficult transition. In today’s classes I’ve invited students to try to let the breath lead them through the transitions, but to be playful when they fall out.

Playfulness may also help us explore new expressions of poses we haven’t tried before. We may be more likely to try to grab our toe in vasisthasana (side plank pose) if we approach it with more silliness. A silly attitude gives us permission to not get it “right” whereas when we approach the pose with complete seriousness we may not even try to get into a pose. We have no way of knowing if we can even do the more advanced pose unless we take the risk and give it a try. Sometimes a little silliness helps lighten our mood and just give it a try.

If yoga isn’t about silliness, it is about the process without regard to the outcome. Vrschikasana (scorpion pose) is a difficult inversion. It isn’t a pose anyone will get into and hold the first time she tries. Approaching it with all seriousness might inhibit us to try the pose in the first place whereas accepting the practice as a process releases us to let go of the outcome and have fun trying.

I’ve used today’s yoga classes as examples, but anyone can substitute this week’s life challenges in place of parivritta ardha chandrasana, vasisthasana, or vrschikasana. The only way to develop personally and professionally is to try something new, slightly scary perhaps. And to take that first step often means letting go of expected outcome and just be playful!

Happy Halloween!

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