Perhaps you too have experienced (or are one yourself) teachers who demand you crawl around the studio roaring like a lion or jumping like a frog—partially to break the rhythm of mental expectation, partially to encourage “fun” within the practice.
On another plane, but equally playful is the class in which students interact with one another (of course interaction is inherent in AcroYoga) before engaging with asana sequencing: staring into the eyes of one another, conducting short interviews, etc.
The Element of Creativity
Creativity is that somewhat mysterious, oft-cited, norm-bending value, adored by yoga practitioners, business-folk, families, and hobbyists alike. Creativity compels us, yet also stands as an enigma.
We all want to be creative, but don’t always know how. There’s no blueprint for us to follow. It seems like a quality we all covet, yet simultaneously hold at arms length. We embrace it and are afraid of it too. Too much creativity and we run the risk of being weird, too little and we’re uptight.
As it pertains to yoga, creativity is a subject of dogmatic debate. Is it allowed in asana practice? Should we follow the science of yoga to a T, or use normal postures as a guide to other possible dimensions of movement? Here are three ways to bring creativity to your yoga mat.
1. Get out of the way.
Creatively oriented people understand that in order to allow creativity to flow through them, the most important action is to get out of the way. This means detaching from any preconceived notions you may have about an experience or endeavor.
This type of looseness is ever-present in children. They don’t go to the park thinking about how the park experience will unfold; they go to the park.
And when they’re there, they do whatever the hell comes up. If that’s doing cartwheels on the grass, or swinging upside down from the jungle gym—they do it—and are clearly not “in control” of whatever situation presents itself while there.
To us adults, this might seem like alien talk. We’re highly conditioned to repeat behaviors in the context of each experience presented us. We rarely allow ourselves the freedom to play, which is what getting out of the way often leads to.
So what to do?
Start small. Go to a place (like the park) or set aside some time at your home to enter an experience without any expectation. Let your intuition lead the way. It might not take you anywhere at first, but eventually your creative self will emerge.
You might have to literally say to yourself, “I wish for my creativity to enter this experience,” or something similar. Then, like a child, do whatever the hell comes up. If it’s playing music blindfolded, do that. If it’s painting or staring at the wall, do that too. Just don’t conform the experience to your norm.
Once you’ve cultivated this innate potential for momentary engagement, you can apply it to the various areas of your life, including your yoga practice.
2. Don’t worry about what other people will think.
Creative people intimidate non-creative people. I mean, we’re all creative, but people who don’t see themselves as creative are intimated by their perception of creativity in others. Because our own creativity feels distant, we marginalize others by calling “a creative person” weird or childish.
Once we’ve labeled creativity (and distanced ourselves from it) as such, it makes it increasingly difficult to unlock that creativity in ourselves—as we see it as negative or without a proper place in our lives.
As business owners or teachers or lawyers, we make an agreement with ourselves that we must uphold a particular standard. This self-prescribed, socially reinforced standard is the kryptonite to creativity, and maintains our conditioned approach to life.
So what to do?
In order to allow creativity to flow, we have to detach from our concern over how others will see us. This often means an appropriate first step is to lay down our judgments of others. Certainly easier said than done—but there are helpful ways to subvert this tendency.
3. Break the norm.
Lastly, tap into your inner creativity by deliberately place yourself in challenging (not dangerous) or embarrassing situations.
Putting yourself in a position where you can break your esteemed view of your self is a surefire way to cultivate compassion for others and allow yourself the freedom to be different—which is exactly the perspective you’ll need to sustain creativity’s role in your life.
Travelers intimately understand the value in this perspective-shifting strategy, as travel with foreign cultures is more or less a constant whittling of the self-perspective through abnormal circumstances.
So what to do?
We need to initiate this periodic check and balance to maintain, not only our humility, but also the fluidity of our outlook as a stratagem for cultivating creativity. It is our finite view of life (and by extension; the self) that deters creativity.
This reduced view of things is what we call normal. It is time we become abnormal.
We are all creative. It is an innate part of us, evidenced in the behavior of children. Perhaps all it takes is a reminder that we are creative. Perhaps it’ll require more of an effort, more of a process to call this facet of ourselves forward.
Regardless, whether we’re on the yoga mat, in our work, or at home, the opportunity for allowing creativity to emerge through us always exists. Now, please go and do something silly.