April 15 was my one year anniversary of living in Korea. Try as I might, I simply cannot believe we’ve been here that long. If it weren’t for the physical evidence of the littlest yogi being less than 8 weeks shy of his first birthday, I may be able to deny it altogether. I love living here and am very comfortable in many ways, but in other ways am still completely clueless. It seems I should know or understand more about this country. And what I wouldn’t give to be able to communicate more fully. If it weren’t for that darn baby! He takes up all my time! Thank goodness we have a few more years which will bring many more opportunities for learning.
Reflecting on this first year, I may not have gained all of the knowledge that I desire, but I have most certainly learned some very important lessons. Lessons in letting go, lessons in humility, lessons in adaptability, lessons in patience … honestly the list could go on and on.
One of the lessons I am most grateful for, and one that would have been learned no matter where I was this past year, is the importance of play. I consider myself a pretty easy-going person, but I’m not terribly playful. This past year has given me some time to a) accept that about myself, rather than despise it, which I have done in the past, b) figure out why I value playfulness and why I don’t seem to be playful, and c) give myself the space to explore playing. A little Yogi certainly helps with all of this.
The Hindu deity Hanuman, depicted as a monkey, is described in Hindu scripture as mischievous and playful. Interestingly, his namesake posture, Hanumanasana (the splits) feels not at all playful. Not for this yogini anyway. More like torture. Or at least, that’s how I used to feel. I made a decision, when practicing Hanumanasana, that I would only go as far in the pose as I could while still being able to enjoy a good belly laugh. At first, this meant barely getting into the pose at all, as my smile would usually disappear as soon as I moved past a runner’s stretch. But, little by little, I’m getting deeper and deeper into the pose. My hips and hamstrings are releasing, and the laughter is coming much easier. I’m still a far way from the fullest expression of the pose, but the feelings I have associated with it have completely shifted. And more importantly, every time I begin to move into Hanumanasana, I have a good laugh and am reminded of the necessity of play.
My son is at the age where he mimics everything I do, so when I laugh, he laughs. When I am playful and joyous, he is playful and joyous. There are times to be serious, of course, but the realization that I have been taking myself a bit too seriously has been a profound one. One of the great things about Hanuman is that even with his playful, silly and mischievous nature, he is also incredibly powerful. He was reminded by Jambavantha:
You are powerful as the wind;
You are intelligent, illustrious and an inventor.
There is nothing in this world that is too difficult for you;
Whenever stuck, you are the one who can help.
Reading that, it is exactly the message I’d like to impart to my son and to myself. I can’t teach it to him if I don’t believe it is true for me. Especially the part about knowing that when you are stuck, you have what is necessary within to get unstuck. Sometimes this means being serious, but as I’m learning, often times, getting unstuck is simply a matter of letting go and having a good belly laugh.
Namaste, yogis and yoginis!