I'm traveling right now, so I'm a bit off my regular writing and yoga routines. In particular, there's a yoga class that I'm missing.
But I don't think about it as class; it's my play date. If you are lucky enough to be in the Reno area, there's a class called Power and Play that Kim Arnott offers at Midtown Community Yoga (http://www.midtowncommunityyoga.com/) .
I think that there's a tendency to sometimes turn leisure or our creative or athletic outlets into more work. I love yoga, which is very different in many ways from my job as a teacher and academic. So, what did I do, I did a yoga teacher training. I created another opportunity to do lesson planning and worrying about whether classes were going well. Similar things can happen to our other creative outlets. My mother loved to make jewelry as a creative release during her time as a middle school science teacher. She made bright earrings and matching bracelets. She has a wonderwall of glass beads from around the world that she liked using in different pieces. Then, she started selling her jewelry at craft fairs. She became stressed out due to losing weekends to setting up tents, managing her cash box, and resenting weekends that were lost to festivals that didn't go well. After a few years of this, and many beautiful artworks, she quit.
I'm happy to say that now, in retirement, my mom is back to creating. She took a class in metalworking at the local art museum. She's playing again.
I feel this way writing here. I also feel this way in the Power and Play class with Kim. It's not "my workout." It's not really even my practice time. Instead, once a week, I show up to play. Kim, a wiry, tattooed sprite challenges us to try hard/crazy things. She asks us to bring her poses we want to try. Not master, just try. Just play with.
I especially enjoy seeing who else comes to class. One weekend, while a yoga festival is going on, there are just two students, myself and another woman. We are two middle age ladies who want to be upside down.
I like thinking about this. I don't know the other woman who has shown up to play, but I imagine we are much the same: responsible, a bit worried about the responsibilities in our lives, mothers, wives, professionals, ladies with a bit of body anxiety in our stretch pants. Who are we to want to be upside down? Who are we to want to play?
See, I think we're very used to/comfortable with "exercising." That hits all my responsibility buttons: "I'm being so good--I went jogging!" But the joy of play! It's wild and it doesn't hit those buttons--instead, we are sweating, nervously giggling women who want to do forearm balances. The other weekend, I fall out of a pose, and go tumbling ass over teakettle. This is not effort expended to reach some noble goal or to help me lose the baby weight. Its play. And my co-conspirators, Kim and this other woman, we're having a great time.
Lately, I have been admiring the heck out of people who invite others to playtime or to creativity. I keep coming back to a recent touchstone for me, Elizabeth GIlbert's recent book Big Magic (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/), which I read as a call to art. She reminds her readers of a time when we all made art, a time before we started to care about who is and isn't good at it. She asks her readers to reconnect with what she refers to the magic of creating.
We could also call it play.