Yoga is citta vritti nirodha - the calming of the swirling mindstuff.
I don't know about you, but I certainly want to stop the swirling of the mindstuff. Here comes a huge yogini confession: I have a million things going on in my head at once. I've been practicing yoga a long time and I've still got a lot of mindstuff flying around. Here's another secret: asana practice doesn't always get the mindstuff under control!
There's more to yoga practice than asana. I think especially since I am a yoga teacher as well as a practitioner, my teacher brain takes over and I start thinking about specific points of alignment, breaking down every detail in my physical practice that I get so wrapped up in it that I'm no longer in the present moment just experiencing my practice. There was one class not long ago where I struggled so much with what I thought was a basic posture, I really beat myself up about my progress. After class, my mentor said to me, "Don't feel bad about it! That's not yoga!"
She's right! But what do you do when you can't do yoga when you're doing yoga anymore?
Yesterday I was really struggling to get out of my own head, so I packed my hoola hoop in the car and went to the park. I hooked up my ipod and hooped for an hour or so. It was so fun to play outside, absorb some sunshine and let go. I found myself able to release judgement about myself and just be in the moment as I danced and played. It's also a good practice to do something like that in a public space and not worry about other people may think. (Although, most people who passed me smiled when they saw a grown up playing with a hoola hoop!)
Obviously, I'm not going to give up my asana practice, or the technical aspects of making a safe physical practice. Still, there's value in shaking up your practice by looking for that yoga connection in other parts of your life. I look at this experimentation and play as a way to "unblock" myself when I get stuck creatively, or caught up in a negative thought pattern. Where do YOU find a calming of your mindstuff? How does it effect your outlook on life?