Having Fun Yet?

Full disclosure: another Warrior II is not always fun for me. Some of the time, I probably should do it anyway, but I'm discovering that's not always the case.

I believe that the key to yoga is consistency. One yoga class or home practice is great, and will improve my mood in the short term, but to get the long-term strength, joy, and equanimity that yoga offers, I have to do it almost everyday over a considerable amount of time. 

But when I am hardened around the form of the practice, I lose the nectar that is contained in the form.

I get hardened around form when I think that my practice should look a certain way. I should be doing Warrior II, and I should be doing it with the back leg pressing back, the front leg externally rotated, the fingers drawing away from each other, the front shin perpendicular to the floor. I should be doing it daily for an hour in a quiet room with no distractions. I become rigid in the form instead of curious about my boundaries, my sensations, and my breath. The nectar is gone.

As a little girl, I loved ballet class. I loved my friends there. I loved pink leotards and tutus and trying to do splits. I loved jumping around the room and plies and second position. And then something happened. My group was about to graduate to pointe shoes and the teacher became more and more firm with us. When my tour jete didn't take a particular form, she grew agitated with me and demanded that I practice more at home. My ballet practice went from lots of fun and a little form to lots of form and little fun. It was all container and no nectar. It was no longer intrinsically enjoyable, and I quit.

If I want to do yoga everyday, which I do, I need to have fun. I need to view my practice as play time, and not get too hung up about perfect poses or an ideal practice. I need to be light and flexible and curious. I need to play.

Lately I'm approaching my mat in a slightly different frame of mind. What would be fun? Sometimes that means turning on music, jumping around to get weight in my arms for handstand, or just rolling out my joints. If I'm tired, fun means lying around on a bolster for 25 minutes. It doesn't usually mean a skillfully executed Warrior II, at least in my home practice. It can be fun to do that in class if I remain curious and open to the experience. But if skillfully executing a form is all that matters to me, even classes with great teachers and soundtracks and intelligent sequencing become less and less appealing until eventually I find myself not doing the one thing that I know makes me consistently happy and healthy: my yoga practice.

Curiosity and spontaneity are the elements that make yoga fun for me. What makes yoga fun for you, and how can you bring more of that into your practice? Can we help? Tell us how!