I confess, I take my yoga practice SERIOUSLY. I often feel that the only way I can benefit from the ancient, revered art of yoga is to approach the eight limbs with a seriousness and severity border-lining on spiritual asceticism.
It turns out, this is not how our children approach their yoga practice. The young participants in my kids yoga classes have taught me that the rules which I have long-associated with yoga have been self-imposed, and I am acquiring a mischievous eagerness to break them.
Here's a few pointers from my rule-breaking accomplices to enrich our yoga practice with a bit of silliness:
1. ''Yoga is better together!''
A guiding principle from Rainbow Kids Yoga Teaching Training (great training!! http://rainbowkidsyoga.net/). Yes yoga is a personal practice, a practice of quietly exploring the universe without and within and all that jazz... But the journey is enriched by friendship and the sharing of experiences. Yoga is ultimately translated as union so let us unite and connect with the people around us!
2. A Sang greeting trumps a Said greeting
Okay, so no need to full-on sing ''HELLO!'' to each and every classmate as we sometimes do in kids yoga, but it's important to acknowledge those who have shared their energy and practice with us. A simple smile or kind look-in-the-eye acknowledges and shows appreciation for the people who are creating that motivating, unifying atmosphere of group practice. Practicing solo? Acknowledge the space, acknowledge the day, acknowledge the lineage, acknowledge yoga.
3. Sound is Magic, Chaos is Inevitable
There could never be silence without sound, there could never be stillness without chaos. So embrace them as true-blue equals. Don't let the loud neighbour, the fan or the sound of traffic kill your vibe, let the sounds wash over you as you lay in Savasana... you're a yogi use your magic powers to become one with the crazy world outside and inside. Kids are the opposite, they've fully embraced sound and chaos, and often still working on the silence and stillness part...
4. Giggling is healing
Laughter is therapeutic! Jump on every opportunity to laugh out loud, even in the ''inappropriate'' setting of yoga class. It's funny to fall out of Warrior III, it's funnier when your best friend falls out of Warrior III... It's FUNNIEST when someone accidentally lets a fart slip in their Warrior III (or any pose for that matter...).
5. Meditation is easy-peasy
Sure there are different forms of meditation, but they don't require a special bench, cushion, room, shrine, candles, incense or even the lotus pose to accomplish. Lets keep it simple: Contemplation (why?, why?, why?); mindful observation (right now as I sit waiting for the bus to arrive: I am hot, my brow is wrinkled, there is a bird on the telephone wire... ); and deep focused concentration (clean every last speck of dirt off those dishes... I haven't mastered this one yet) are all ways to sneak meditation into a busy day.
6. Curiosity kept the cat young forever
There are so many opportunities to learn new things, to ask questions, to be inspired, to grow. The world that we live on is fascinating! The creatures we share it with are fascinating! The universe beyond our planet is fascinating! The universe within our own bodies is fascinating! Find reasons to let these things take your breath away...
SO THE NEXT TIME WE ROLL OUT OUR MATS, lets step into our practice as our child-selves. Literally SHAKE off the need for perfection, put on a sly grin and playfully hop from ''pirate's plank - argggh matey!'' to ''snake - hssssst'' to ''dog - woof! woof!'' May we dance without music, laugh at our mistakes and embrace our untameable mind.
We have enough work to do in our day-day, lets indulge in some PLAY-TIME!
*Illiustration: The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Anne Power illustrated by Kathleen Rietz