If you were to walk past a yoga class, happiness may not be the first feeling that you see expressed on student’s faces. Whatyou will see is whole lot of sweat, a few people falling over, and some bodies bent in a way you thought reserved for Cirque du Soleil.
Despite the seriousness on student’s faces, there is actually unlimited peace, joy, patience and bliss to be found on the mat. You just need to know where to find it.
Here’s how to hack into instant happiness on your mat!
Soften the features of your face. It’s that simple. Chuck yourself a smile in the mirror, or have a laugh if you fall out of your pose. As my teacher always tells me, “it is just yoga, it cannot be so serious”.
A simple trick I like to use is to engage my Jivha Bandha. To activate, simply lift the tip of the tongue so that it comes to the front of the roof of the mouth. This relaxes the jaw, locks in energy, and creates a slight upward tilt of your mouth, also known as…a smile!
Any good teacher will tell you, if you are not breathing freely, you are not doing yoga.
If you find your breath stinted, held or unbalanced, you need to relax out of the pose a bit more. It is no good touching your toes, or balancing on one leg if the breath is not flowing freely through your body. You are not only stunting your progression in the pose, but you are also harming your overall practice.
The deep breathing practiced in yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, producing a calming, relaxed effect and activating all those feel good chemicals. Result: Happy Yogi!
3. Change it up!
We all know routine can become boring. However scandalous this tip may be, try out a different style. If you’re a full-time Hatha student, head to a Bikram class, or explore a Kundalini class. Want to share your practice with friends? Grab a fellow yogi and try out Acro Yoga. In need of a serious laugh? Try out laughter yoga!
If you usually practice alone, attend a class, or visa versus. Challenge yourself with this. If you usually practice inside your home or a studio, head outside, and look at the sky as you salute the sun. Yoga is a life-long practice, so keep it interesting.
4. Let go of what it is suppose to look like
Leave perfection outside of your practice. It does not exist. Even leave logic behind, as this too is hard to find on the mat. One day you will nail poses you never thought possible, the next you’re falling out of every posture and find yourself in child’s pose for the majority of the class.
This is the way of yoga – rewarding and humbling at every turn. Your ego has no choice but to take a backseat!
5. Stay in Savasana
A lot of the time, as soon as your teacher has closed the class with an Aum and Namaste, you’ve packed up your mat and headed for the door. I understand, we all have places to be, dinners to cook, people to see. Attending a class is already such a time commitment, and I am definitely guilty of the same trend.
However, once I’d noticed this behavior in myself, I wanted to see what happened if I actually stayed in class. I made a commitment to stay in Savasana for at least 5 minutes after class. The result: total bliss. Not only did I make time to really tune into how my body was feeling after practice, but I was also able to soak up the bliss that the class had created.
An added bonus, I no longer had to rush to be first in the shower, battle through the crowd to get to my locker or fight for the mirror. I practically had the place to myself!