Finding Happiness On The Mat
“Now and then it’s good to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire
We spend most of our lives striving towards goals – achieve a certain score on a test, graduate from high school, get into a course, get a job, get a promotion, get fit, save money, find love, find happiness – big or small, they are what motivate us. In fact, the dawning of a new year revolves around the whole idea of setting ourselves up for the year ahead with an intention, goal or “new years resolutions” to give us focus and direction.
Whilst goal setting is a healthy and really valuable way of giving ourselves focus it’s also important to keep some perspective in mind. If we focus purely on the goal or outcome, with the idea that happiness will be achieved at the end, we risk missing out on the joy that comes from the journey.
Of course there will be challenges along the way, that’s the nature of the beast, but if we expect happiness to be achieved as a reward for our goals then we will forever be in the pursuit of happiness. And let’s face it, there will always be another goal. What if instead we put our focus in the “doing” rather than “receiving”. If we can find enjoyment in the process of moving towards our goals then the goals themselves become the result rather than the source of our happiness.
How can this be applied to the mat?
Ask yourself, why do you do yoga? What is it that motivates you to step on the mat? Is it the promise of one day being able to touch your toes or bend in half, are you aiming to hold a plank or stand on one leg? Perhaps it’s recovery from an injury or you have a level of fitness in mind. Have you ever come to the mat purely because you know that at the end of the class you are just going to feel amazing? Would your answer ever be ‘because it’s fun’?
Studies have shown that the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels spike after just a single hour of yoga. Higher GABA levels are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. Simply put, even a single yoga class can start changing your brain chemistry and improve your mood. Ie, make you happier!
As we know breath is also a key component in lowering stress and anchoring oneself in the moment. Research shows that correct breathing makes us more mindful, giving us the ability to regulate our emotions. Whilst both can be done autonomously, the pairing of yoga and breath (which naturally go together) is a great recipe for happiness.
So next time you are taking that pose to “the next level” allow yourself to let go and enjoy the process, you never know what you might achieve along the way 🙂
How do we find happiness off the mat?
That’s simple. Stop looking for what can make you happy and find happiness in the moment. Even when life is chaotic, what can you be grateful for? What joy can you find in the process of what you’re working towards? Look towards your goals for motivation but find joy in the journey. You never know what you may find along the way.
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