Smile! Living certainly has challenges, but it also has a beautiful and bright side. Too often we lose track of what can be our greatest healing method: humor. Comedy. Smiling. Laughing. Playing.
Losing our sense of humor is especially prevalent in the fitness industry, where making gains and progress can become the focus of our athletic endeavors. Seeking quantifiable pursuits can become a narrowing path toward uber-achievement. Predicting outcomes, number crunching, and calorie counting become a focus that pushes out the necessity to breathe a lot and laugh a little. Following a program and structure with discipline is a beautiful thing. It’s mandatory for the evolution of soul and mind. But when is too much too much? I say when we stop smiling or laughing, especially at our own mistakes or faults.
Rigidity has its toll on the human body as well. To maintain discipline requires focus and a narrowing of the scope of attention. Deliberate and focused attention creates a constant level of tensing around form and structure. The tensing becomes the structure. It becomes the seat of the mind. But everything I’ve learned about martial arts and yoga is that the body should be as relaxed as possible until the point where the energy is needed to flow outward. So in a sense, we keep a lid on our energy until necessary.
Yoga teaches us to focus inside while we practice relaxing the outside, instead of wearing our focus as an armor of tensed muscles constricting blood flow. We need to break out and break free from time to time to relieve the pressures of living. One way to break free is through movement and expression.
There is a form of yoga called laughter yoga, where the very act of producing laughter changes the physiology and chemistry running the mind. Often one will feel the rise in joy, pleasure, silliness, and random acts of distributing affection.
Do you enjoy your yoga practice or is it a chore? What activities bring you great pleasure and joy? Pepper your practice with being silly!
Pose to bring about more joy:
- Stand in Horse Stance – feet separated four feet apart, with knees bent over ankles.
- Set an intent or verbal affirmation speaking about what makes you laugh.
- Begin to laugh, out loud, right now! Hee hee, haa haa, hee ha ho!
At first it may feel awkward, just being in a horse stance and forcing laughter. Perhaps being awkward is your next advanced pose. The idea in this practice is to let the body relax enough to shake free from repetitive tensing. To gather enough oxygen in the lower lobes of the lungs to down-regulate the central nervous system so workouts become efficient, not just effective.
Creating work or challenging circumstances is the endeavor of the human spirit, but to work smarter, not harder is the drive of the human mind. Be smart and be silly! Instead of only inspiring yourself, you will inspire thousands, because not only can you create a challenge and execute it but also you can do all that and still laugh at yourself in the process.
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.