It can be a challenge to remain lighthearted when the world around you can seem anything but. However, each day I consciously strive to have a positive, light attitude towards life in general.
I grew up with a father who teased me, so developing a sense of humor early on was a survival tactic. It has helped me my whole life, and it is something that I have passed on to my children.
Throughout my fitness career, I have also used this approach to overcome any new and intimidating physical endeavors. At one point, yoga was one of these new challenges. Even as I’ve progressed in my practice and skill, I still stumble and have to get my thoughts in line to keep me going.
I’ve found that applying this mindset, both on and off the mat, has helped me tremendously. With that in mind, here are 7 yoga-centric tips that I’ve learned to help keep me lighthearted:
1. “Life Is Harder Outside This Studio Than Inside.”
Aaron King, Owner, King Yoga, Aspen, CO. I can apply this in two ways. On my way into class, on the days that I’m not quite feeling it, I think, how fortunate I am to have time to take a break from all that’s going on and focus inside a class that I love. Or, when I’m in class, feeling a little timid or frustrated, it makes me think that’s waiting outside is definitely harder. So I take a deep breath, get my mind right and focus on the here and now. The stuff outside can wait.
2. Keep Life In Perspective, After All, Its Only Yoga
Isn’t that life? A series of moves and postures that get you from one thing to the next? Focus on each move; allow it to get you to the next position. Build on it, breathe. Keeping moving forward. Sounds very do-able, right?
3. Laugh Lines
I think that all of my laugh lines have a story to tell. Thinking back to how I got each one, some simply make me smile. Some are rip-roaringly hysterical, and others are from moments of pure joy and pride. These memories keep me lighthearted.
4. Lighten Up
Why is it that as we are stressed, we forget to do the most basic thing – breathe? Whether I’m struggling with a posture or problem, if I notice that my breaths are uneven or shallow, I try to take a step back and just focus on breathing. In and out. Evenly. Deeply. It’s amazing how clearing out the ‘bad air’ leaves you feeling lighter, more buoyant.
5. Opening Your Heart
In yoga, you have undoubtedly heard the expression, “open your heart.” I use this as a visual, literally seeing my heart growing, becoming bright and luminescent. I see and feel sunny yellows and warm orange tones. It is a very positive and powerful image. Try it.
6. “Blessed Are The Flexible, For They Shall Never Be Bent Out Of Shape” Anonymous
I love this quotation. It makes me think of how amazing I feel when I’m really present in my practice and flawless and unstoppable. It makes me feel like shouting “Bring it on, world! I can do crow!”
7. Go With The (Yoga) Flow
This can be such a cliché, but sometimes, it is so true. You can’t control life. You can’t control what your yoga teacher is going to ask you to do in class, so what else can you do but just go with it? At times yoga is more about surrender than it is about effort – life can also be this way. So it’s ok to choose to let go, stop resisting, and just go with the flow.
There you have it. My go-to grab bag of tools to help me maintain a lighthearted approach to life and yoga. Each one has come in handy at one time or another, and I hope that one (or more!) speaks to you. I wish you luck, a sense of humor and a light heart.