Are you having enough fun with your yoga practice? Here are a few ways to bring playfulness back to your mat…
While most of us practice yoga because we love it and it makes us feel good, sometimes we may forget to make yoga fun!
Many professional yogis may seem overly serious or studious, but as the Yoga Sutras state, one should approach each yoga pose as “steady and full of joy”. This sutra (sthira sukham asanam) reminds us that it is important to approach our yoga practice with a sense of playfulness. In fact, it implies that playfulness is just as important as discipline in our yoga practice!
If you’ve ever practiced yoga with children, you already know how much fun can be had when practicing yoga postures! 🙂 Here are 3 ways to cultivate playfulness, ease, and joy within your yoga practice, according to Chopra.com:
See Through the Eyes of a Child…
…Watching young children explore with wonder and awe how their body moves is a perfect example of how we can prioritize playful exploration in our practice.
Yoga is not about forcing or pushing the body into an idealized form. Every body is different. The physical postures of yoga are meant to help us connect our mind, body, and spirit. To that end we gently move into one posture, then the next, not pushing past the edge where we feel that dynamic energy of strength and ease.
We practice with lightness: no need to have a pose look “perfect,” to hold for a certain amount of time, or to judge the experience.
So much growth and learning happens with the combination of discipline, ease, and play…
Slow Down to the Pace of Nature
Imagine how a yoga practice might look if everything was slow. Imagine slowing down even more than you just imagined. How slow could you move? Could you hold a pose longer to feel more benefit? Could you practice Savasana for a longer amount of time than you usually do?
When I practice yoga slowly, I am more aware of each movement, of the way my mind and body are responding, and of how much calmer I become. After I enter that space of calm, steady movement, then joy bubbles up. Sometimes in the slowness, emotions arise and fall away as tears roll down my cheek. Through the process of slowing down and allowing whatever is to be as it is, tension melts and a quiet bliss — sukham — is the result.
Practice with Beginner’s Mind
Beginner’s mind allows us to come to each new moment with a fresh perspective. In yoga, it can be a way to release expectations for the practice to feel the same way today as it did yesterday. Beginner’s mind allows us to keep awareness on each breath and each movement with curiosity as if this is the first time we have experienced it.
With the beginner’s mind, we can be curious, silently asking questions of the body and mind. How does it feel if I move this way? Can I go a little deeper in this pose? Do I need the extra support of a prop? How does the breath support me as I explore this posture?
Witnessing the physical movement, the breath, and the energy of the body as a beginner helps lighten the experience and bring a sense of playfulness to a practice you might have done thousands of times before.
The next time you’re on your yoga mat, remind yourself that yoga isn’t just challenging, good for your strength and flexibility, or helpful at relieving pain: it can also be FUN! 😀
What are some ways that you add fun to your yoga practice? Share your thoughts in our Facebook community!