Play Time: Lessons From The Mat
Playtime. Remember that? Play felt pretty serious as children.
We were weather witches, we’d run, we’d roll, fall, pick ourselves up, get dirty, be fearless, try anything, art, craft, be unafraid to be seen, to take up space.
Play is perfection.
It’s our most uninhibited state. When a child is in play, they are in touch with the inner wolf. They are Shaktified; energised with life vibes.
True, unadulterated playtime is an opportunity to let inhibitions go and lean into the present state in an intuitive and aware state.
It allows us to lean into curiosity.
Our attitude to Yoga involves a generous dose of play. Because our intentions and thoughts hold the capacity to create reality.
Thoughts are things (a favourite mantra of ours); if we think it, we become it. Trust us; this is DEEPLY and ABSOLUTELY true. We have gained lovers, moved counties, lived in countries, achieved change and transformation purely by breathing and believing that the outcomes were possible.
It isn’t what, so much as how.
Our ‘why’ is the seed. Watering our intentions with belief and playful curiosity, beckons opportunities to expand.
The lotus flower pushes through the darkest, muddiest of waters to reach the light.
True progress occurs when we learn to release into play state.
Sri K Pattabhi Jois famously declared that ‘Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory’. We feel we could substitute practice for play:
Yoga is 99% PLAY and 1% theory
We don’t mean ‘un-serious’; as children, play is crucial and is serious business in defining our people skills, our relation to others and directly affects how we will express as grown ones. We mean play as in unconditioned, innocent, explorative, supportive, united states of being.
Play is something to be done every day.
And we need to put our everything into it.
Don’t focus on the end goal; there is never an end goal in Yoga. It’s ever-expanding, ever-shimmering; the edges dissolve and the landscape shifts.
A gymnast can create yoga shapes; but they are not in Yoga.
Yoga is a state of being.
It’s being so aware of NOW. Completely aligned in body, mind and soul.
Yoga is to reconnect, plug in, turn on and light up.
It’s serious, life changing ritual.
It’s about diving so inwardly deep; getting into all th entity gritty, the parts we hide, the pain, fear, hurt. It’s about giving ourselves permission to ‘be’ on all levels. This practice is not easy.
But adopting an attitude of play assists in us diving deeper; no extra tools required.
Elements of play that we remind ourselves over & over:
When we fall, we pick ourselves up again! It’s no big deal. In truth, to fall is to fly.
Don’t be so serious; does it really matter how high you get your limb?! Lighten up and you’ll become light enough to reach your leg to sky!
Smile; the most radical posture of all! Turn the outer edges of your mouth to sky (Keira’s favourite and most frequented pose to teach!). Every now and then, try this pose. Especially when you don’t feel like it. Because the body remembers. And all the energy associated with a smile is magically stirred from heart centre.
Play with different transitions; use tools (blocks, straps, belts, bolsters, twigs, walls). Don’t fall into habitual practice (though there is magic in set sequences too; but find new ways of approaching those aswell). There’s always an alternative pose, expression, transition.
Play with tempo; slow is best, but on days when we feel dull, heavy, overspent or stuck, it’s worth trying a more dynamic, upper paced practice to stir up some stagnant energy.
Change your space. Always at the back? Move to front? Don’t have a set spot. Think musical chairs and set our mat down where you least expect it. If there’s 12 spaces and you attend once a week, that’s 4 months’ worth of different perspectives to practice from! Set the adventure of exploring the space.
Don’t be shy to sigh. Let go of tension and negativity. Keep absolutely none of that to yourself. Let it go. Hold onto nothing; non-attachment is key to the practice.
Equally, let go of those moments of pride; hold onto nothing. What we hold onto, weighs us down. Want to fly? Then let it all go.
These are just some simple tricks. Think about all the lessons you learn on the mat and curiously carry them into the world. Don’t be too serious.
Feel into all your feels. Taste it all. And let it all be play.