“Of Course!”: Lessons from a 4-Year Old Yogi

Late last month, I took a vacation to the Caribbean, and stayed with a few new friends who were temporarily living there. One of these new friends was 4-year old Penelope, the cutest, most engaging girl you’d ever want to meet. In addition to having a big personality, this kid has a big interest in yoga. Needless to say, we got along just fine.

In fact, Penelope and I not only practiced yoga poses together, we also talked about our favorite foods, jewelry, our mutual adoration for “cappuccino” (even her espresso-less version), and a whole host of other items. No matter what we discussed, though, one thing stood out in technicolor: her undeniably optimistic perspective on life.

Now, when you’re 4 years old, hopefully you don’t have any reason not to be optimistic, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still observe and replicate that innate, innocent happiness that only kids seem to know how to rock.

Here’s what I mean: whenever I asked Penelope a question (such as “would you mind sharing your Cheerios?” or “why don’t we sit here?”), I got an exuberant, irresistible “of course!” or “sure!”, complete with bright eyes and an adorable smile.  Whenever she wanted to tell me something, it was preceded every time by “Miss Kelly, guess what?!”  Because everything was a “guess what?!”  Everything was interwoven with excitement and novelty and surprise.  According to Penelope, every day was going to be the “best day ever!” and we were going to have “the most fun!”

Kids have a way of reminding us what’s new and possible — it’s part of why they’re so awesome.  Without the worries of the day-to-day, a child’s fresh, unsullied perspective and outlook creeps into our stale spaces, giving us life, movement, energy and gratitude.   Even if just for one lucky moment, we break out of the spin cycle and pay attention to the “now,” because that’s what they see — what’s happening right now, not 10 minutes ago (they’ve already forgotten) and not 10 minutes from now (way too far into the future!).  We worry about the wrinkled bed sheets that we didn’t fold last night, but the little one knows they’re perfect for building a fort.  We walk hurriedly down the street, consumed with #12 on our to-do list; the little one is consumed with the cloud overhead that looks like an elephant.

A child’s perspective, if we stop to really look at it, pulls us back into (and helps us appreciate) the present moment. With that sort of change in focus, the mood lightens, perspective shifts, we breathe more easily, we find more stillness.

And that’s where the yoga comes in.  When we practice yoga, we do our best to focus on our tiny space in the universe, outlined by the sides of our yoga mat.  We pay attention to our breathing, to our bodies, to where we are right now. We practice true presence. We offer gratitude for what we’re experiencing, real-time.  We invoke positivity, and we play with easy, forgiving abandon.

This month, I encourage you to live your yoga in this way.  Not sure where to start? No problem! Penelope can help if you don’t have another source of childlike brilliance nearby. Follow her lead, first by answer questions affirmatively: try new things, jump in enthusiastically, stay open to the world of possibility that exists out there.  Next, bring up topics using a “guess what?!” approach: playful, novel, curious.  Chances are your energy will not only make your day brighter, but will inevitably shine down on someone else…. and that’s the best kind of yoga there is.

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4 Responses to “Of Course!”: Lessons from a 4-Year Old Yogi

  1. Evelyn says:

    Guess what? I couldn’t agree more with you! Kids provide a refreshing outlook on life that we should all strive for. Great blog entry? Of course!

  2. Dayna says:

    Guess What? This made me breathe and then a Childs’s Pose! Of Course!! I Love It!!!

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