Embracing Playfulness in Yoga and in Life

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My yoga practice has been coming alive again lately. It’s as if helium was blown into a limp balloon, making it sway and dance in the wind once more.

It’s not the structured and serious practice of years past. It’s different. More playful.

Before I had kids, and especially while I was in the midst of my yoga teacher training, it was not uncommon for me to spend an hour or more doing yoga every day. My sessions were uninterrupted. They were meditative and prayerful. They were planned. I would often work diligently to add new, more difficult, poses to my skill set. And I always ended with a long time spent in corpse pose. I took it all very seriously.

Then kids came along. Daily practice flew out the window. Weekly practice became frustrating, often interrupted, and before long it was laid aside as well. My practice became sporadic at best.

There were short seasons after kids, when I would attempt to teach classes to friends and family. But even that was not enough to inspire me to get my own practice back.

It was like I didn’t know how to do yoga unless the environment was perfect. I wanted the quiet contemplation of my old practice and when I didn’t get it I grew frustrated. Often deciding that not practicing was better than frustration, my mat sat rolled in the corner, untouched.

Until recently.

There’s beginning to be a new freedom in my practice and in my heart. An ability to enter in and out of poses fluidly within my daily responsibilities. A willingness to start even if it means not finishing all that I intended when I began. An ability to laugh when I fall out of a pose and move smiling right on to the next one. An acceptance, an ability to bend yoga to fit my body and my life instead of trying to fit my body and my life into some previously held ideal.

I am embracing playfulness in my practice.

I know my body well enough now. I know enough about human anatomy. I know the boundaries and the rules enough to bend and play with them.

I don’t have to work through poses in the perfect order. I don’t have to do thirty minutes or more. I can spend 10 minutes playing with sun salutations and walk away from the mat to color with my kids.

I don’t have to do poses exactly as I’ve always done them or seen them done. I can adjust, adapt, modify, twist. I can shift the position of my arms and feel how that small change shifts my whole body.

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As I’ve begun to play in, and with, my practice something has happened in my soul. I’ve touched desire.

My practice now flows out of playful desire. Not guilt. Not requirement. Not living up to a goal. Not wanting my body to look a certain way. Not wanting to live up to some ideal self image.

Just desire. Plan and simple.

It makes me wonder what other areas of my life could I infuse with more fluid playfulness?

In the past I approached my yoga thinking that if I didn’t have enough time to do it right, if I didn’t have the ideal setting to do it the way I had done it before, then I couldn’t do it at all. That was a lie. One I know I tell myself in other areas of my life as well.

So here’s to accepting where you are, instead of waiting for the perfect timing and ideal setting. Here’s to dipping your toes in, even if you can’t dive into the deep end right now. Here’s to doing just a little wherever you are. Here’s to bending rules and creating the fluidity needed to fit things into your own unique life. Here’s to falling and getting back up. Here’s to playing. And playing again. Here’s to finding the path to desire.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany

YogaBethany Stedman