The Art of Going Wild

May 9, 2012

We all need a good rumpus once in awhile.

Maurice Sendak was onto something when he created the island of Wild Things, the land where monsters live but if we can be more wild than the monsters, we can be king of the kingdom, free to act as we please.

We all need this.  Each of us has made poor choices and said things we wished hadn’t said.  We all reacted angrily and stormed off, stomping our feet loudly with steam shooting out of our ears.  And not just when we were 5.

Each of us has needed a place we could go to in order to stew, pout, roil, burn, sulk and eventually, slowly cool off.

We all can relate to Max, who simply needs an outlet for his anger and so he creates a fantasy island in which he can be the most wild of all wild things.  He can rage and be ferocious.  He can swing from trees, dance in the moonlight, roar as loudly as he wishes.

The story is all about how we can use our imaginations to create a world into which we can disappear when are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, angry or simply not ourselves.  Not a hideout so much as a place in which we are capable of shaking off the stressors of life and be free.

Wild Things

As yogis, our island of wild things often takes the shape of our yoga mats.  We come to the mat and become exactly who we want to be.  If we’re practicing at home, it’s a breath of fresh air on a day when we feel stifled, stuck or silenced within our own skin.

When we take the time to go to class, it’s 90 minutes out of the day in which we answer to know one but ourselves.  We are sovereign to our own desires.

A yoga class is 90 minutes entirely to ourselves in which we can get a little bit wild.  We can unleash a side of ourselves that doesn’t get as much attention or time in the sun.

The yoga mat is a place where we can work out what is plaguing us.  Or ignore it entirely for the space of the class.

Sometimes we come to our mats and we throw temper tantrums, much like Max does.  Sometimes we experience intense, blinding joy.  Other times we might collapse onto our mats in a heap of snot and tears.

We come to our mats with the intention to play.   But by getting into our bodies and out of our heads, we can process what we might struggle to address elsewhere.  Simply the chance to physically wake up our bodies is the ultimate “wild rumpus”.  To stir it up and shake out the stuff that Max has, that we all have, is an enormous gift.

If we can go a little wild where it’s safe to be wild and rumpus-y, we can return like Max does, to “the ones who love us best of all” with more clarity, more peace of mind, a deep understanding and a more compassionate approach towards that rage, frustration, or stress we feel.

If we don’t have a space we can retreat to, imaginary or otherwise, to unload or vent, consider all that begins to accumulate in our bodies, our minds and our hearts.

But using our wild island not as a dumping ground but as a creative area for transformation and healing, that’s healthy.  Ultimately, this process is what enables us TO reenter the world we live in and return to the ones we love, a little more sane and a little more prepared to take on what comes next.

Make a date with your mat.  Next time you feel anxious, do child’s pose.  Cranky?  Handstand.  Overwhelmed?  A few Surya Namaskars synched with your breathing will calm you down and reel you back into the present.  When you feel unlike yourself, remember your favorite pose and give yourself 5 minutes to luxuriate in the joy of offering the gift of momentary escape into your body and out of your head.  Your head will be fine.  It will be there when you return.

And it might be in better condition than when you left it.

Max would approve.  All he asks is that you tell his friends he says “hello.”

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