This past week I taught at a Wellness fair at my son’s school. Two large groups of 4th & 5th graders and I went on an underwater yoga adventure together; exploring animal and sea life poses. We started off in our boat pose that took us out into the ocean and we even simulated waves with our bodies. It has been a while since I have taught kids and this time, more than others in the past, I was inspired by the wonderment and enthusiasm that they exuded. They were so excited to use both their bodies and their imaginations in this underwater journey. We were just in a typical classroom, but for that 40 minutes they let their minds and bodies create something extraordinary out of the everyday. They were amazed at what their bodies could do and they supported and were inspired by each other.
This combination of enthusiasm and imagination became my message for the week. To practice finding the wonderment in the moment by using our imaginations and our child-like excitement in every journey we take both on the mat and off. I thought it would be fun to take my adult students on a bit of an underwater adventure as well so I sprinkled some animal and sea life poses into our typical asana flow. I asked them to use their imaginations and connect to the wonderment of the journey; to explore what their bodies could do in a carefree, fun way– free of judgement and expectation.
We started on our backs in Starfish pose and then moved into Navsana (Boat pose) to warm up the abdominals and bring us along on our journey. After our Sun Salutes and several traditional standing poses, we started to have some fun. We played with Crocodile (begin in plank and lift off both hands and feet– like a hop) which couldn’t help but make us smile. Our forward fold to Pashasana squat became Jellyfish and even a modified Childs pose became Sea Sponge. Our traditional Shalabasana series (spine extension laying on your stomach) with a few adjustments became Sting Ray, Whale and Shark poses. Malasana (wide legged squat) became Crab when we tucked our shoulders under our knees and reached the arms out to the side and we explored Firefly and Turtle poses too. (both pictured above)
Off the mat we have that same chance. We can choose to approach our everyday with excitement and imagination. We can support others and ourselves with compassion and without judgement. We can connect to the child-like wonder that still lives in each of us. We can find the extraordinary in the everyday. It makes the journey so much more joyful.
As we neared the end of our asana practice and moved through Matsyasana, fish pose (as no underwater journey would be complete without fish), and on to our final spinal twists I shared with my students what I had shared with the children. What we do on our mats simulates how we live off of them. The physical yoga practice allows us to lengthen and strengthen the body; to cultivate the perfect balance between strength and flexibility. Along the way, we find areas of tightness and tension and we get to release those out with our movements and our breath. The end result of all of that is finding lightness and space in the body. Yet, this practice offers even more; it teaches us how to take it further and deploy the same gifts in the mind. The power of this practice is inside of each one of us. It shows us how to connect to the strength and flexibility in our mind and spirit while letting go of the thoughts along the way that do not serve us. From there, we find lightness, joy and peace and we gain the ability to see the Extraordinary in the Everyday. Namaste.