last week, i had the pleasure of teaching yoga to a group of girls ages 12-15. most of them had never experienced yoga before, so they came in with no preconceived ideas about what yoga is or isn't. i'm used to teaching "yogis" -- dedicated practitioners often with years (if not decades) of experience -- so it was a treat to be the girls' introduction to the practice. and it was also a treat to see how they experienced it.
after talking with them a bit about yoga, its benefits, and hearing what ideas and questions they had about it, we began. one of the first postures we moved into was simple cat and cow -- and when i said the name and demonstrated it, a girl in the front row giggled, and said aloud "cat and cow!", and then laughed again. it momentarily caught me off guard, but then in the next moment i realized that of course the name, and the pose itself, would seem strange to her -- it's not something you would generally do in a room full of people, and it's probably not meant to be performed as solemnly as it often is in studios.
as yogis, we are often (or at least strive to be) dedicated, intuitive, and introspective...but can't we also have fun? isn't having fun, and enjoying a bit of happiness-in-motion, the point too?
as we moved through the practice, the girls laughed, chatted, asked questions, fell out of postures, and giggled some more, and it struck me that what they were doing was as much yoga as what i generally deem as a "sophisticated yoga practice".
after teaching the girls, i challenged my students at the studio to bring more fun into their own practices -- smile, move in ways that feel good, and try something that you normally shy away from just for the heck of it!
as we look for freedom in our minds, bodies, and spirits through our yoga, we should also remember that pure, unbridled joy should not be pushed by the wayside in order to try to achieve that goal. joy, happiness, and even bliss should not be something that we wait to experience "one day", when everything is "how it should be". it's not something we should wait for permission to enjoy. we should strive to experience it here and now. in our lives and on our mats.
lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu may all beings everywhere be happy & free
picture by www.m2-photography.net