“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.”
- John Lennon
Each and every one of us has the capacity for true joy and happiness, despite prevailing circumstances surrounding us. We each deserve happiness! Sometimes, when life events challenge us, we can become weighed down with worry and anxiety and dis-ease. If you’re too focused on the past, which cannot be altered, you can sink into depression. If you’re too focused on the future, you can become anxious.
Learning to ground yourself in the present moment is key to happiness.
Of course, living in the present moment doesn’t mean you’re oblivious to the journey that brought you here or prevent you from planning for and anticipating the future. But learning to fully embody every moment as you experience it is where joy occurs. Yoga helps us focus on the present through attention to breath and focus on mindful movement. Physical, emotional, and mental stress manifest in the body and weigh down your mood and ability to experience happiness.
One of the many ways yoga creates the potential for happiness is focusing on Pranayama or mindful breathing. Learning to breathe deeply can regulate blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system or your relaxation response. Paying attention to your breathing helps quiet the monkey mind––you know, those repetitive thoughts circling your brain. Anxiety subsides and mood elevates simply by controlling your breathing.
When you add the physical yoga postures to your mindful breath, you begin releasing the feelings trapped in your tissues. Simply moving your body in different ways creates change from the outside in. Emotional stress tends to sit in the hips, so hip openers not only make you feel less stiff, but can also help release unprocessed emotions. Opening your heart and shoulders relieves mental anxiety and encourages stress to fade away in addition to creating better posture and a healthier spine.
This week's classes all share one focus: creating more joy inside and out.
So, roll out your mat and release what’s weighing you down. You’ll feel happier while you’re practicing and that feeling will stay with you off the mat. What are you waiting for?
1. Erin Wimert - The Art of Allowing
2. Christen Bakken - The Conditions for Joy
3. Jackie Casal Mahrou - Happiness Flow
4. Maria Garre - Beat the Winter Blues Namaskara
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