Do you often catch yourself saying the phrase “I’ll be happy when I…” get the job, finish the project, pay off my debt, go on vacation, etc.?
It can be an exhausting effort to constantly wake up each day, striving to succeed and thinking that the next accomplishment or task will be the one that finally “allows” us to be happy.
Then once we reach that goal post, we enjoy our triumph for maybe a day, a few weeks or months until there is something else that needs to be done so we then go back into the cycle of postponing joy.
It becomes a merry-go-round.The constant quest for “happiness” can make life insanely miserable and exhausting.The crazy thing is that whenever we take action towards a goal or achievement, it’s not the actual physical award or title we are going after but the feeling attached to it.
The same thing happens when we buy something new – it’s not that particular item we are after but the way the item makes us feel.
What if we decided to flip the phrase “I’ll be happy when…” to “I am happy because…” What if we committed to joyful living on a daily basis by first deciding how we want to feel and then taking actions that will align us with those feelings?
Yogi’s come to the mat expecting the practice to make them feel a certain way, whether consciously or not.We wait until yoga class to feel “present” in our lives and in our bodies.
However, most yogi’s and yogini’s know that it is just as important to be present off the mat as you are on – that’s when true bliss and happiness becomes effortless.
Being joyful and present in our lives should not be confined to a specific set of circumstances.That is why this month is dedicated to having fun on and off the mat.
Scientists have classified three kinds of happiness as a result of the physical response in the body through the rush of endorphins (the happiness hormone).
Pleasure is a positive sensory experience like physical exercise, eating something delicious or jumping in the ocean in the summer (hello, it’s almost summer right!?)
Engagement is being ACTIVELY involved with something positive and not feeling alone (yoga class, work, family, girls nights, guys nights!)
Meaning is using your own personal strengths and talents to serve something greater than yourself which brings more fulfillment to your life and satisfaction.
Looking at the three types of happiness and their components it’s no wonder so many are drawn to the practice of yoga.
I get it – there are days when we’re running late, the dogs are barking, the kids are sick, your boss is sending you a million emails and happiness, joy and fun are a distant door in the faraway future.
However, whether it is intentional or not by simply practicing yoga on the mat it has a seemingly beautiful way of creeping into our lives off the mat.
Those crazy days become more bearable when we find ourselves unintentionally focusing on our breath and releasing expectations about how our lives ‘should’ be.
Some poses that are instant mood elevators are backbends like Ustrasana (camel) which is energizing or Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle) where we can focus on the breath by placing our hands on our ribs and we get a yummy hip opener at the same time.
However, the pose of the month and the happiest pose that comes to mind is Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)! How can we not be happy when we think of chubby babies rolling around and do the same ourselves? Getting a nice opening in the hips and a mini-back massage.
For this month of May, commit yourself to happiness. Find what activities make you happy and make you feel the way you want to feel.
Whether you are ready to try something new like hopping on a standup paddleboard and floating out into the gorgeous waters we are surrounded by or melting into restorative postures during a candle-lit yoga session – find what makes you happy and go after it with vigor.