Monday, April 26, 2010

Press Play

So I take circus classes. At the moment, it's a playdate I have with myself every week. Just a chance to do something that is just for fun. No one's making me be there. It's not "good for me." It's not necessary to maintaining quality of life, like chores. It's play. I don't know how thorough an explanation that is, but it's the most honest one. I'm having so much fun with it, and I'm picking it up pretty easily, so it may morph into a sideline of sorts eventually, but once it does that, it stops being play, so I'm not in a huge hurry for that to happen.

I bring it up because, in a lot of ways, it's very un-yoga. When you've got your feet wrapped in the silks, you need to hold yourself up until you unwrap your feet or you will fall. You can listen to your body, sure, but your body can't be the one calling the shots. Your arms may want to relax, but they just have to wait. With the exception of cloud swing, a lot of aerial dance isn't terribly intuitive. You just have to listen to the technique explained, and watch it being practiced, and then do it until it makes sense and becomes intuitive in your body. You really can't just "move in a way that feels good." Your body doesn't really feel all that good when you haul it high above the ground and make extensive use of every major muscle group.

In spite of these very serious differences, I love circus. I'm just wondering why. It certainly provides balance. I do enjoy putting my body through its paces; making use of its incredible capabilities. But, I think also, in some ways, yoga isn't play. Yoga is my job, and of course, it's also a life style. Circus is something I can pick up when it is of use to me, and then put down again when it's not. It requires a lot of discipline while I'm doing it, but the next day when my pecs are sore enough to make spreading my arms out in Warrior II more or less unbearable, I don't have to get back on the trapeze. I do have to do Warrior II.

I hugely endorse yoga as play, which makes me think I need to rethink my mindset on my yoga practice a little bit. Surely yoga can be both work and play...I think this is the point, four paragraphs later, that I was working my way up to: Yoga should be play. Yoga can be incredibly effective as an exercise routine because yoga is always playful, and always about listening to your body, and feeling good.

On the other hand, a lot of those asanas on the mat don't feel so very good at first, let along intuitive. Maybe circus is just discovering yoga, in a bit more of a kick-ass form, all over again. It's a lot of food for thought for me. But then, it's a rainy April day. What else are we going to do? I've got a suggestion for you. Take ten minutes, and then more if you're having a good time. Roll out your mat, or pick a hunk of floor, and play. I dare you.

Live Omily,

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