"You can smile, you know…" How many times have I heard my yoga teacher say this? She’s right though, I definitely have a yoga face and when I glance around the class, I can see that most of the other students do too.
Generally, it’s a look of grim and thin-lipped determination – not at all pretty.
For myself, it’s an aspect that surfaces when I’m going through my inner checklist: feet grounded, legs straight and engaged but without locked knees, bottom tucked in, tummy muscles engaged, chest up, shoulders down and back, fingers pointing down, head up – gaze forward…and that’s just for mountain pose.
Of course, our yoga classes should be enabling and encouraging calm and peace, but sometimes, just sometimes, a bit of fun thrown in the mix can remind us to have a light heart about it too.
Laughter is the Best Relaxer
Recently, one of my yoga teachers was in particularly playful mood. She had us trying to rock into a position that no-one in the class would normally be able to attain.
She, and we, knew we wouldn’t get there — but knowing that it was safe enough and we wouldn’t damage ourselves, she let us have a go anyway, and the resulting tumble of uncooperative arms and legs, made us all laugh and relax throughout the rest of the class.
I am a firm believer in laughter as the best relaxer there is. Whenever we start a new venture, meet new people, try new things, finding common ground in humour can help us feel welcome and part of the ‘gang’.
I think this could particularly apply to yoga where eager individuals attending their first class might be overwhelmed by all those serious faces concentrating on seemingly impossible poses in deadly silence.
Throwing in a wild card like my teacher did the other day would demonstrate that whilst we all might be at different levels in our practice, it is still just ‘practice’ and those stoney stares actually mean we’re all just busy working hard to tame our wayward bodies in one way or another.
It's All About Balance
Of course, I love the peace and quiet as much as anyone, and I don’t want my classes to be as loud or rowdy as a party. In fact, there is a class clown in one of them, and I often end up scowling to myself, wishing she’d be quiet and just get on with it.
So clearly there is a fine line to tread when introducing fun to a mixed class. I leave that to the teachers to consider!
In the meantime, I’m adding an extra note to all my posture checklists: Relax face and smile!