There may be a big hullabaloo over kids and yoga on the West coast—but I assure you, there was no such thing here yesterday on our nation’s capital as thousands of school-aged kids come running, skipping, even cartwheeling onto the White House Lawn for the annual Easter Egg Roll.
I was with a group of other instructors working the Yoga Garden (that’s right Encinitas: yoga!) And by working, I mean not working at all!
Because yesterday, there was no sequential series, correct method, or postures in Sanskrit. Instead, we turned downward dogs into kicking donkeys, practiced wheel pose before ever binding in marichyasanas, and even made up silly animal poses.
What a hoot! I’m pretty sure I haven’t laughed as hard or had as much fun on a yoga mat since . . .well, last year?
You see, I’m normally pretty serious about my yoga. I’m an Ashtangi, of course, and we tend to be a pretty serious and driven group in general.
We’re efficient. We’re precise. We are orderly, rule-bound, hard working and generally rather intense. None of which I intend to apologize for because all of this is good, until it’s not.
And we often don’t know that it’s not until it’s really not.
My teacher always says, you come to your mat out of love not duty. And yet, that’s exactly the trap we often fall into.
We lose that sense of curiosity and room for discovery. We stop smiling and the joy turns into resentment. Resentment for the ache in our back, the shoulders that won’t budge, and the burden of postures we once begged for. Yet instead of easing up, we fall right into the grown-up trap of rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts, success and failures.
Ashtanga Life is hard, but I often make it harder. Kids don’t do that, they keep it simple and therefore, light. If it looks fun—they try without consideration of whether it’s possible or not. When they’re scared or confused, they ask for help, and when they’re tired, they take rest.
All of which is missing from both my practice—and more importantly, my life.
So once again, this Easter, as part of the White House Easter Egg Roll—I did not actually teach the kids anything they didn’t already know . . . but the kids reminded me of lots I’d managed to forget.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta