How the Joy of Yoga Reduces Your Stress Level

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

How the Joy of Yoga Reduces Your Stress Level

If you are feeling stressed or anxiety or overworked, you can transform your relationship with joy by asking yourself these two questions:

What is my joy subroutine?

Joy isn’t always glitter and belly laughs and jumping up and down with overwhelming delight. Just because we don’t emanate a spontaneous outward response, doesn’t mean we’re not happy.

Often times joy comes from simply being content, feeling safe and discovering the beauty of the world. It’s exquisitely ordinary. Uncomplicated. Gentle. Inexpensive. Maybe even mundane. Whatever it takes to light up our circuits.

Which is why yoga is such a perfect expression of joy. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. And there is no joy police waiting to jump out from behind the bushes and take us down for not acting with euphoric and overpowering cheerfulness.

I approach it like a subroutine, to steal a computer programming term. Because treating joy as a program with instructions to perform a specific task makes it easier for me to access. It allows me to take agency over joy at a moment’s notice. And it helps me to choose the path of temperate endurance, despite whatever resistance life decides to throw at me.

This subroutine may sound a bit cold and mechanical, but sometimes it’s the only way to avoid keeping myself hostage from my own kindness. I have zero shame about using yoga to elevate my mood.

What can you do, in this moment, that would be a gift to yourself? What one thing might you do today, no matter how small, that would increase your joy?

Remember, joy is more than just another emotion on our emotional palette. It’s also choice, a skill, a muscle, a mindset, a daily practice, a spiritual bearing and a natural inheritance. Just like yoga.

How could I celebrate other people’s joys?

Do you allow yourself to enjoy the things other people create, without the compulsive need to spot check everything for imperfections and inconsistencies?

That’s something workaholics would never let into their lives. Allowing the aesthetic arrest of beauty, without always asserting our opinions and judgments. It depends how vulnerable we’re willing to be.

Even during yoga class, criticizing other people’s practice is a cozy defense against joy. It’s a strategy that we use to protect our egos and assert our intelligence and make ourselves feel strong.

When really, we’re just attached to our own cleverness. Hanging onto it like a life preserver, believing that without it we will surely drown. After all, who are we without all of our brilliant remarks and precious opinions?

No matter how strong or weak or bizarre the person practicing next to you is, the goal is to surrender into the moment. To ease into tehir humanity. And to allow the world to soften our hearts like a meat tenderizer. It’s a much more vulnerable place to be, but as long as we suspend our critical minds long enough, joy can have free reign.

Sure, it’s much easier to be a yoga critic than a yoga celebrator. But then again, how many critics do you remember from the last century?

The point is, enjoying other people’s unique practice is one of those gifts we give to ourselves. And so, next time you reach for your critical arrow when you watch other people doing asana, consider making yourself open, raw, tender and real by loving something instead. 

Remember, joy is not an accident, it’s a choice. One that we actually have control over. With these questions, we can allow ourselves to manifest our delight.

Scott Ginsberg is the author of 35 books, a TEDx speaker, the world record holder of wearing nametags, and the author of A Year in Hot Yoga: Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat. 

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