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Monthly Inspiration: July 2014

Play

By Heidi Humes

Heidi Humes"We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." 

A very wise man indeed, that Benjamin Franklin. I have always loved this quote. When Jessica invited me to write our July Focus of the month, I was simultaneously overjoyed and completely panicked...what did I have to say to her audience of yogis that could be engaging and worthwhile? I am just the kids yoga teacher....and then I remembered this wise quote from Mr. Franklin and it all became clear exactly what it was I wanted to address this summer.

Why DO we stop playing and more importantly, what if, just this month, we practiced being kinder to ourselves, less serious with ourselves, laughed easier and more often at ourselves, both on and off our mats? 

As KamaDeva's kids yoga teacher, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I play on a daily basis. My students range from 3 to 7 years old and come into class bursting with energy.  Despite me telling them otherwise on countless occasions, most of them think my first name is Yoga and say it with such love, I can't help but swell with pride. My classes are constantly filled with wacky props, giggle inducing music and have often been known to include me wearing some sort of theme costume. At any given time, I may need to showcase my most professional puppetry skills, roll the kids up into sushi roll pose or fly through the air in Warrior Three as we blast the sounds of Laurie Berkner and her Airplane song. 

There is a mantra to kids yoga teacher training. They repeat over and over to "come PLAY yoga!". The importance of the word play, however, didn't hit me until I had taught my first class. Opposite to adult classes, you can't really have a lesson plan. You take the kids on a yoga adventure and let their imagination dictate your flow. Warm up isn't all that necessary for their limber little bodies and inversions at the wall are usually where they want to begin. That I am privileged enough to introduce these young yogis to words and concepts such as being mindful, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, and the lifelong benefits of Savasana (relaxation pose), is truly the icing on my already delicious yoga cake and gives me enormous hope for the future generation. 

Letting go of control and allowing for a playful mind is what has made my classes so important to me, both as a teacher and as a student. Going with the flow, it turns out, wasn't as easy for me as I had originally planned. In fact, in all my previous careers, I just HAD to have a plan. I was THRILLED to check things off a list as completed. I felt SECURE knowing what was next. I was my own worst critic and so unbearably demanding with myself. Entering the world of kids yoga with all the silliness, the unfiltered imaginations, the children's flexibility, their infectious laughter and unabashed eagerness to try and try again, encouraged me to let go of all my ingrained adult overachieving, my incessant need to do things "just right". 

Playing yoga has taught me to laugh at myself again. This lightness, this ability to forgive yourself, giggle and move on, it's life changing. In turn you realize that its actually fun to fall over while in tree pose yelling TIMBERRRRRR all the while, and yes, as one of my dearest kids points out each class, "this downward facing dog pose REALLY makes me feel awkward!" 

My little yogis and their elastic bodies have all inspired me to choose Urdva Dhanurasana (Wheel) as the pose of the month. No other pose makes me feel so playful, so open, it's like an instant flashback to when I was ten. Working on getting into that deep bend and extreme heart opener requires not just a great deal of effort but also a fantastic sense of humor, and I can't think of a more fitting reminder to honor your inner child. 

Carefree and heart shining to the sun, I wish all of you a very playful practice at KamaDeva this July. 

Namaste,
Heidi

KamaDeva Yoga, 15 Lumber Lane, 2nd Fl, East Hampton, NY 11937 Tel: 917.301.6919 Monthly Inspiration Archives