Why Bother To Smile More?

Why Bother To Smile More?

Practicing balancing poses in yoga is not an easy feat. Standing on one foot or on one’s head takes concentrated effort. Oftentimes when I focus too hard on mastering a balance pose I fall out of it and then realize two of my biggest mistakes. First of all, I am taking myself too seriously and secondly, I am holding my breath. 

      Go Ahead and Grin

 Normally, when a sequence of balancing poses are practiced in a yoga class, the teachers are well aware of the tension that builds up inside everyone. They understand how difficult the poses can be and that our balance varies from day to day. They also know how strongly everyone wants to succeed at these poses and for this reason they often remind students to smile and breathe. Other instructors will say to embrace the wobbles. In other words, when tempted to take a pose too seriously, we are reminded to lighten up. 

These cues —to smile, breathe and embrace the wobbles— are good reminders for people with personalities such as mine. I know I can be a little competitive, even with my yoga practice. I am also somewhat obsessed with an urgency that becomes an intense and pulsating force of energy. I get impatient quickly and  have a tendency to equate self-worth with achievement. People like myself have a difficult time embracing the wobbles, let alone smiling when doing something hard. We just want to perfect our poses.

Smiling more often might be helpful, but it is not easy to do when one is focused on a demanding task. It takes a conscious effort. But, when I do remember to smile, whether when attempting to stand on one leg or working hard to teach fourth graders a new math concept, I notice instant changes taking place in my body.

First of all, my sense of urgency leaves my body and I feel my shoulders drop away from my ears. My voice softens and slows down. The wrinkles in my forehead smooth themselves out and the tension in my head dissipates. Finally, I remember to breathe. 

Not only does my body change, but anyone in close proximity changes too. When I smile, they do as well. So much goodness from simply changing the shape of my face. 

Why bother to smile more? It is worth it to change the shape of our face from a tense expression to a wide grin. After all, when we do, we can change our whole world. 

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