Chances are, you’re reading this at a desk; your eyebrows are probably furrowed, shoulders creeped up by your ears. You're fighting your late-night chocolate cravings with carrot sticks (nature's candy, right?).
You may have just typed “LOL” without actually laughing out loud.
It’s okay to be a serious person (and to take your practice seriously); but, for serious—it’s okay not to be all the time.
Try throwing in one—or all, you playful yogi, you!—of these poses into your next practice; wherever, whenever, however—don’t think about it too much.
We know you know all the good that yoga can do—its stress-relieving, heart-helping, muscle-building, identity-crisis-solving superpowers—but how about the “less serious” benefits, like simply allowing yourself to stop, breathe, and take yourself less seriously? Try throwing in one—or all, you playful yogi, you!—of these poses into your next practice; wherever, whenever, however—don’t think about it too much.
Start in navasana (boat pose) with your shins parallel with the ground, slowly lower your back toward the ground—still keeping your shoulders, neck, and head lifted! Exhale to engage the core; reach your left hand toward your left foot, simultaneously swaying to the left and shifting weight into your left hip. Then begin shifting to your right hip, reaching right fingers to right ankle. Sway back and forth; dance it out while heating up those abs!
Come back to an upright, parallel-shin boat pose. Separate your legs so that you can reach your arms between and either grab hold of the outsides of your ankles, or bind your big toes. Balance on your sit-bones, and sit tall. You can keep knees bent, or extend your legs toward straight, but continue to lengthen through your spine. Inhale to stay, then, on an exhale, draw your belly back, round your spine, and rock back onto your shoulder blades (but not your neck or head) Inhale, rock back up to seated—see if you can put on the breaks and balance (yes, really!), lengthening through your spine. Exhale, round and rock back again. Try 5-10 rounds. Challenge a friend to rock and roll with you! Are your abs sore because you're movement is so slow and controlled, or because you're laughing super-hard? No one knows for certain.
Tree in the Breeze
Start in tadasana. Grounding down into both feet, begin to slowly shift your weight onto your left foot. Lift your kneecaps up your legs, engaging your quadriceps. Place your right foot at the inside of your left ankle, calf, or inner thigh. With hands on hips, inhale to broaden your collarbones and lift your chest; keep that expansion as you exhale. Find your drishti (focal point); and once you feel stable, bring your hands to heart. Once stable there, blossom your arms up overhead, palms facing each other, opposite pinkies reaching for each other. Keeping your standing (left) leg engaged, begin to sway your arms side to side overhead—like a tree in the breeze. Maybe there's a crazy gust of wind that even knocks you over!
You’re familiar with this one, I’m sure, but try coming into this pose like it’s your first time. Breathe into the sensations in the hip flexors; note what it feels like to have the bases of your feet in your hands. As you inhale, stretch one leg out; switch legs with your exhale. Let yourself roll around; relax your jaw, your eyebrows; smile! Have you been acting “too adult” in your happy baby pose?
Coral Lee is an Editorial/Content Assistant Intern for Yoga International, a 200-RYT instructor, and is currently studying English and Art History at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.