- Sometimes we hold back on trying a more advanced pose or variation as we fear we won't get it right and either the teacher will notice, or others will. Don't worry - give it a try!
- Turn your world upside down (handstand, headstand, downward dog) - it can give you a different perspective on life
- Smile... often
Can you remember back to when you were a child? Carefree, with all the time in the world to play; feeling light and uninhibited by what people thought? As adults our lives are often quite serious, efficient and stressful. Research is beginning to show that spontaneity, playfulness and laughter is a great defence against stress and no doubt makes us easier to be around! Yoga gives us a great opportunity to re-create that feeling in a safe space. Perhaps it's trying a new pose, working with a partner or turning yourself upside down.
Trying a new, potentially challenging pose can strike fear into people. We fear we won't get it right and others will laugh at us. But if we're all in the same position, then perhaps laughing at each other's mild anxieties can help create a supportive atmosphere. My favourite pose is handstand, as it reminds me of playing in the school grounds aged 8. Try one up against a wall when no-one is looking, and I bet you can't to keep a straight face!
Partner work is another area which can make people feel a little uncomfortable. It's best to start with shared poses back to back, so to lessen the need for eye contact, however once you get more acquainted it can be lovely to watch each other and laugh if you don't quite get the pose right and collapse in a heap! The key to playfulness is to let go of the need for an activity to be useful. When we approach yoga for relief, stretching or to progress then it has an aim and we feel pressured to achieve. If we can let go of that we enter the realm of playfulness.
Yoga is essentially a practice of silent introspection. In most classes the atmosphere is calmed with the hum of breathing but can also be a little cold. As a teacher I'm sometimes struck by how serious everyone looks and I like to drop in a joke to warm the atmosphere or make a difficult pose a little more do-able. A smile or a giggle can work wonders against stress. I always ask my students to smile inwards to give themselves thanks for taking the time to practice yoga at the end of a class.
Tips for your next class