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I hate to admit it, but there was a time when I’d get stressed out if I arrived to my regular yoga class to see that someone else had taken “my spot” in the room. It also drove me nuts if a teacher didn’t give me enough time to get my alignment perfect in a pose before moving on. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the people who have the nerve to walk on my sacred yoga mat when they leave the room for a bathroom break.
Yes, I’ve been guilty of being a grumpy yogi who takes myself and my yoga practice a little too seriously. And if you relate at all, it’s possible you’re taking it too seriously, too. After all, part of the practice is letting go of thoughts and emotions that don’t serve you—and being too particular about the placement of your yoga mat probably isn’t doing you (or the world) a lot of good.
I try not to take things so seriously these days, but when I find myself slipping, here are a few things I do to lighten up.
Connect with your inner child. Today, as I was practicing Downward Dog, my 17-month-old crawled through the space between my legs and shouted “Boo!” (I guess she’s practicing for Halloween.) We both fell onto the floor laughing. It’s hard to be serious when you’re around children. But even if you’re never around children, you can approach your practice with that same lighthearted playfulness, unbridled joy, and completely uninhibited spirit you felt as a child.
Try something new. If you find yourself getting upset that someone else took your spot at your regular yoga class, or ranting in your Facebook update about how a style other than your own is not “real yoga” … it might be time for you to get out there and experience a different way to practice. Maybe it’s a yoga session outside on a beautiful day, or Acroyoga with a friend. Getting out of your normal yoga routine is a great way to infuse your practice with fun.
Make “mistakes.” Fall down. Om off key. Twist the wrong direction. And then laugh at yourself when you mess up and move on.
Forget about perfection. Remember yoga is about the process and how you feel in the moment. There is really no end goal. No right. No wrong. No good. No bad. Your experience of the practice is whatever you make it. You can get upset when things aren’t perfect, or you can choose to appreciate and celebrate how strange and wonderful the world can be.