Monkeying around

Monkeying around

Yoga might prepare you for the highs and lows of life, but it won’t conquer your fear of heights in the playground. By Victoria Jackson

I love the idea of taking yoga ‘off the mat’ — making yoga relevant to everyday life rather than being something you do just for an hour and then tick off the daily to-do list. When I teach I urge my students after every class to ‘take the yoga with you’, the idea being to move through the rest of the day with a bit more grace and compassion.

Surely that’s the real point of yoga? To find ongoing tranquility and equanimity, even if not full-on enlightenment.

I’ve been spending time recently with my young niece. I thought the zen qualities of my yoga practice would be helpful here: perhaps in cultivating an attitude of love and patience as she explores — and challenges — all sorts of boundaries.

In reality it wasn’t this elevated, as anyone with children could have told me, I’m sure!

Last year she was all about handstands and Urdhva Dhanurasana, or ‘crab’ in her language. It was pretty fun rolling around on the grass together, and when she got tired we lay down counting the daisies and looking for woodlice.

This summer, now she has six (and a half!) years of life experience under her belt, she is definitely getting more daring, increasing in confidence as well as in height.

So we headed off to a local park ere she could show off on the monkey bars and the climbing frame. I haven’t been on either of these things since I was her age, but like a good auntie I wanted to get involved in the playtime. Suddenly all those chaturangas came to good use as I swung off the monkey bars, reasonably confident in my shoulder strength.

Then it came to the climbing frame, a fancy affair in rope and steel that towered above us up into the sky. I was grateful here for any hip flexor work that allowed me to pull my knee into my chest to reach my foot up to the next cross-section of rope.

Up I went. Up and up my niece went. And then up a bit more. She peered down at me and urged me higher. I made some weak excuses about the climbing frame not being meant for adults, that I didn’t want to wobble the ropes and unbalance her...“You’re scared!” she declared at high volume to me and to the park in general. Um, yes, that would be it.

Yoga might prepare you for the highs and lows of life, but it doesn’t prepare you for actual heights, I realise!

Victoria Jackson is a vinyasa yoga teacher living and teaching in Oxford.
Visit: or follow her on Instagram @victoriajacksonyoga

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