Recently a friend sent me a video of people practising yoga at home, while their pets (dogs and cats) can't resist to join in and play along. And that made me think...
Sometimes we lose the true spirit of the yoga practice. The competition, frustration, anger, disappointment are often our close buddies on our mats. Excessive seriousness takes place of the focus and takes away the softness and playfulness.
Especially in Ashtanga (but the same goes for Vinyasa or other yoga styles), people get stuck into reaching the goal, reaching The asana, reaching a „higher level of the practice“, and that brings all of the above. I observe it in my students, but sometimes I find it in myself too. And the lacking of playfulness and lightness in my practice makes me heavy and stuck. Stuck into certain asanas, but also in life situations.
„Enlightenment is a serious thing“ – I used to think at the beginning of my journey. So I'd do all of my practices (yoga and not only) with seriousness and strictness, which sometimes just added more edges, instead of reaching softness and openness. But the moment I realise it and start laughing at myself more, the practice becomes light and somehow spacious again. The spirit of exploration, of juicing the habitual performance by feeling from within, or adding daily something new into every practice makes it fresh and renewed.
Allowing ourselves not to be perfect, but to be funny. Not to be amazing asana performers, but to be Aware.
Practice with an imaginary piece of melting chocolate in the mouth, as my teacher used to say, rather than with tight bandhas AND jaws. How does it feel rather than how does it look? Let go of the urge to reach the goal... I still have a subtle smile whenever I take that first breath on my mat, and it has been for almost 15 years.
So step on your mat as to begin your favourite game, and simply start playing. Just like our animal friends, they understood it well.
Follow that string of joy that comes from your heart. And smile :-)
Ps. the video mentioned above:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ 2014/07/10/why-pet-owners-are- better-at-yoga_n_5574985.html