My most recent inspiration came from (of all things!) Halloween. While I usually approach this holiday with what I admit is a bit of disdain for the candy, the commercialism, the marketing to kids, THE CANDY, I was taken aback by the unexpected joy that I was confronted with. Let me clarify.
My kids were bursting out of their alien and white droid seams with joy. Pure, unadulterated, joy. First to dress up, then to play their respective roles, to see their friends all dressed up, and then of course for the candy. While I’m sure sugar played a role in all of this joy, there is a real ability of kids to take delight in something so simple. It’s powerful. It’s like they have this key to access and express joy when it strikes them.
We as adults are often so much more closed and protected. We hide or fail to recognize experiences that could be joyful simply because we have fears. While this has many personal manifestations in our relationships, physical effects often translate to chest tightness, heartburn, even asthma. Part of yoga is learning to access those places of joy and open up to our own experiences.
So tonight I advised my students to be open to experience their joy. As John Friend, founder of the Anusara Yoga movement states, “Look for the good vs. what is wrong” both in class and off the mat. Throughout the class, I noticed my students that usually push to the extreme soften and internalize their practice, and those who are already gentler with themselves hone in on specific postures that they struggle with.
I think we can all challenge ourselves to be more open to joy. Whether you practice yoga or not, each of us can take the time to appreciate ourselves. Simple acknowledgment and gratitude for everything that makes us, well…..us (yes even those parts that we may not be completely satisfied with). We can only truly experience joy for others when we have seen the good in ourselves.
I’m sure I will continue the struggle with being open to my own joy; good luck in striving to be open to yours.
Kristin Henningsen, M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.