How to Bring Childlike Wonder to Your Yoga Practice
Yoga is by nature a simultaneously serious pursuit and a dreamy, childlike means of relaxing and strengthening the body, mind, and spirit. We could all benefit from tapping into the whimsical, impulsive energy of childhood as we navigate today’s demanding lifestyles.
Many yoga poses are named in honor of animals and nature. By taking on the spirit of chosen poses, it is possible to forget daily stress and to feel how we did when our age was measured in single digits.
Focus On Your Yoga Practice With Fresh Young Eyes
As children, we are naturally mindful. All that matters at a given moment is what is in front of us. The toad hopping across the grass, the soft feel of a pet’s fur, a fireworks display in summer, a Christmas tree in December. We don’t mull over problems as we sit on the lawn. Instead, we see fireflies and stars, feel the dew on the grass, hear the sound of summer insects.
We sometimes think that childhood innocence and wonder only exist because the serious problems rest in the hands of adults. But part of the reason our problems become such a heavy burden as we grow older is that we’ve lost that sense of innocence and wonder at our surroundings.
This loss is considered normal, but that’s a sad error. Being mindful like a child can actually help us find answers by freeing our minds from preconceived notions, opening space for innovative solutions.
Those of us who practice yoga realize the power of mindfulness, yet we sometimes focus so much on the importance of perfect performance, that we forget have fun in the process. It’s important to sometimes see our yoga practice as the eyes of a very young person would. We may be surprised by the unexpected benefits.
Suggested Yoga Positions for Invoking Childlike Wonder
Any yoga position or breathing technique can trigger wonder once we open to the process, but some positions seem perfect for getting started. Always remember to be kind to yourself when learning or perfecting poses. Children practice activities primarily to relax and have fun. That approach can also work well with yoga.
Child’s pose is a restful position, good for use between more challenging postures. To initiate a sense of wonder, focus your attention on the universe within the blades of grass on the lawn. If indoors, do so in your imagination, or just meditate on a rug pattern, or whatever comes to mind. Honoring imaginary worlds most adults ignore can be mentally freeing.
Stand tall and picture your favorite type of tree in your mind. Consider what you love about it. This is a great confidence builder. Don’t just hold the pose. Wave your arms as a child would, pretending your limbs are blowing in the breeze.
Bridge pose is energizing, rejuvenating, and restorative. Another good pose to strike between more challenging ones. Imagine a river flowing beneath your body, taking away your troubles and tension.
Have you ever wished to be as lithe and relaxed as a cat? Observe your own feline, or a friend’s. Pretend you are the animal when you do yoga. Feel the graceful energy of your body. Cats find so much pleasure in stretching. We should too.
Don’t feel very graceful? It doesn’t matter. Just imagine that you are. One reason very young children are normally carefree is that they pretend to be what they wish to be. We can learn a lot about mental health and the power to achieve what we want by doing the same.
In canines, this position is called a play-bow. A sign that a dog is ready to romp. Starting a yoga session with this posture could set the tone for the intention of invoking childlike wonder. From a therapeutic standpoint, dogs sometimes strike this position to help with physical ailments they’re feeling.
Pretend to be a svelte snake. Even hiss if you like. Who knows? This practice might even mitigate a phobia of reptiles. Have some fun with this one.
These positions lend themselves particularly well to the cultivation of a childlike approach to a yoga session, and can be done, at least in modified form, by nearly anyone. But don’t limit yourself. Practicing any yoga pose from simple to challenging, can be done in the manner of a child newly exploring the world and all it has to offer.
Breathing techniques can also be done with an attitude of wonder and fun. Visualize blowing bubbles through a wand, blowing out birthday candles, blowing the dried fluff from a dandelion stem, and watching the seeds disperse on their little parachutes.
Carrying the Spirit of Whimsy into Our Daily Lives
Once you’ve achieved a spirit of childlike wonder during a yoga session, don’t consider the session conclusion as a boundary. Repeat fun yoga sessions frequently.
Remind yourself to transport the lighthearted outlook into everyday life. Make more impulsive choices of foods, clothing colors, home decor, reading material. As long as you don’t endanger safety or health, be more free with your actions and comments. Step lightly on your feet. Play dress up. Assuming some habits of children can keep us grounded and happy.
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