When I started Downward Facing Mouse, I worried that people might see yoga and Disney as antithetical.
In a lot of ways yoga is about letting go, and Disney is about excess. Yoga is about finding joy in discomfort, and Disney is about amusement. Yoga is about seeking truth, and Disney is about whimsy. But ultimately, yoga is a way of life. It’s a worldview that can be applied to anything – including Disney.
So check out the similarities I see between yoga and Disney below, and let me know what you think.
It’s an escape:
Part of the reason I love yoga so much is that it helps me cope with the rest of my life. Yoga pulls me out of my routine and out of my head. My practice hones my ability to push aside distractions (of which I have many) and focus on my breathing, my movement and the way my body feels. Even if it’s just for a short time, I lose my to-do list and mile-a-minute inner dialogue. Yoga is an escape – just like Disney. The world we live in is pretty crazy, and even though Disney isn’t perfect, it’s a place where people can let go of the stress and anxiety that comes with living in 2018. There are rides and characters and ridiculous snacks that will make even the grumpiest adults feel like kids again. Plus, you don’t have to drive yourself anywhere (if you don’t want to) and someone else makes your bed.
No two yoga practices or Disney trips are just alike – and that’s the beauty. When you’re doing yoga and Disney right, you’re making them work for you. If backbends hurt or you truly hate Tower of Terror, you should find something else. Some people come to yoga for power practices and others are attracted to restorative. Some people come to Disney to make the most of 12-hour day park days, and others find more relaxing ways to spend their vacation. Your practice won’t ever look exactly like someone else’s, and neither will your ideal trip. Don’t ever apologize for making it about you.
There’s a learning curve:
Yoga and Disney can both be intimidating. There’s just so much to know. The postures in yoga have English and Sanskrit names that can vary by tradition. Disney trips often require months of planning, and the culture is full of acronyms and slang. The learning curve can be steep for sure, but there is also an incredible community surrounding both yoga and Disney who want to see you succeed. Find your people. Be patient with yourself. And don’t expect to learn it all – ever.
You should always modify, as needed:
One of the biggest barriers I know I faced with yoga was accepting the fact that sometimes I need to find a regressed version of a pose. I’m a driven, type A person who likes to succeed. But yoga isn’t about being better than the person next to you. It’s about learning to listen to your body and pushing yourself to grow in ways that are healthy, not harmful. Sometimes that means challenging yourself with a more difficult expression of a pose, but more often it means recognizing when you need to take a step back and find yourself in a more attainable option. Choosing to modify isn’t a cop out. It’s deciding to make your practice work for you. The same is true at Disney. A lot of us spend months planning trips that are outlined down to roughly each half hour. But sometimes your late-night flight gets delayed another four hours, or the ride you’d planned on rope dropping is down at park opening. When these things happen, your 8 a.m. breakfast reservation or carefully crafted touring plan aren’t quite as magical. Sure, you can power through. But is that really going give you the best experience? In yoga and at Disney, it’s always OK to modify. Adjust your practice or change your plan to give you what you need. You are the only person who cares that things aren’t going how you thought they might.
This is it. This is your life. There is no redo. You won’t ever get another chance to do this yoga practice or to take this trip again. Put your phone down. Push the distractions away. Be in this moment. It’s amazing what you can feel or notice when you allow yourself the opportunity to be present.
I cherish the moments on my yoga mat when I’m not thinking about anything but my breath and the feeling of being exactly where I am. Those moments don’t happen as often as I’d like, but they are wonderful when they occur. On our last Disney trip, it seemed like nothing went exactly as planned. But we didn’t focus on what was supposed to be happening. Instead, we chose to just enjoy our time however it unfolded. I didn’t get to eat my favorite breakfast or ride my favorite ride. The craziest thing is that I don’t even feel like I “missed out.” Not at all. I had a wonderful trip spending time with my favorite people in my favorite place. We had great conversations and noticed details we’d never seen before.
Whatever you do – be present. In your life. In your yoga practice. On your Disney trip.