When you’re in the moment, feeling carefree, doing something you love, you might find yourself smiling without even thinking about it. I catch myself all the time in fitness classes (think booty shakin’ Zumba and the like) with a big smile, feeling totally pumped. Interestingly enough, despite my love for yoga and how amazing it makes me feel, this was not always the case.
When I first picked up yoga, I would see my focused gaze in the mirror during dancer’s pose, notice my strained expression in chair, or feel my glassy, glazed over eyes as we moved to floor poses preparing for savasana, final resting pose. There actually were times where I felt like smiling, and sure, I’d let a smile slip here and there. But for the most part, I tried to keep my zen expression, and for some reason, zen translated as serious to me.
Because yoga is zen and calm and meditative and the whole shebang, and a big goofy grin seems like it would create a ripple in still water. I didn’t want to kill anyone’s peaceful vibes.
So the first time I heard a yoga teacher say, “Smile you guys; yoga doesn’t have to be so serious,” you can imagine how liberated I felt! I smiled, and even let out a little laugh of relief. And sure, there ARE moments where my blank zen face is a perfect reflection of my inner stillness, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I also feel great amounts of joy and bliss, with my heart so full from a yoga session, my smile stretches ear to ear! I am learning, with every teacher who reminds me to smile or cracks a joke, to just set my smile free.
Because yoga isn’t about holding anything back or worrying about what others think, it’s about surrendering to the present moment. It’s about really being there to honor what feels good and what is brought up for you, and if that means letting your pearly white flag fly, by all means, let it fly!
This doesn’t just apply to yoga either. Really, what is the point of being on this journey we call life if we aren’t having as much fun as possible? Grace can be found in every moment, and life is just too short to hold back your bliss. So smile away friends…
And if you need further convincing, read on!
5 REASONS TO SMILE MORE (anytime!)
- Positive health benefits
All the feel-good chemicals are released when you smile; we’re talking serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Plus, smiling can boost your immune system, balance hormones and stabilize blood pressure and heart rate.
- Feel connected to others
When someone smiles at you, it’s pretty hard not to smile back, right? There are even studies that have been done on this, backing the saying “laughter [or a smile!] is contagious.” Test it out for yourself!
- Turn off monkey mind
When the inner chatter is nonstop and our bodies are functioning under constant, low-level stress, a simple smile can instantly relax the body and can even release tension on a cellular level.
- We were born to smile
You might have heard about the study that showed babies smiled around 400 times a day, while adults were lucky to get 20 smiles in. When did we forget to keep smiling? Smile away, you’ve got 380 more to go today!
- A reminder not to take life so seriously
A smile, even a fake smile (because of chemical release), can change your whole perspective and bring you back to a sense of lightness, lifting your mood and brightening your day.