Smile You Are in a Yoga Class
When I first came to France and went to church I was sooooo disappointed. It was so grey and serious. I was used to the Evagalistic churches of my youth, the gospel churches of Birmingham full of singing, raised hands and joyful expressions ! Maybe a little extreme on the fun side of religion but never the less my experience. My Dad used to refer to them as the « Happy Clappers » and mocked me endlessly for my Church outings but to me this was what religion and spirituality was about ! Sadly I have never found that joy in the catholic churches I have frequented – maybe I need to try again – but I am struck by a new phenomena
Yoga Classes can be the same kind of place !
I have been teaching yoga for a number of years now and have been practising for even more and very often – like almost every time – I see a raft of serious faces around me. It reminds me of the Catholic Church. It is as if once you go through that yoga studio door and sit or roll out your mat the yoga concentrated face has to appear and all the fun is gone ! Why can’t the fun stay ?
When I first went to a Gospel Church in Birmingham the priest said at the beginning of the service please leave the aisles free for those who wish to dance. I was 13 years old and I thought YES I have landed in my kind of church ! Very few people stayed seated during the service. There were electric guitares, fabulous voices, raised hands and the incredible ingredient of JOY ! For me this is what it should be like to go to church – a veritable celebration of life. A joyful expression of gratitude.
Now my first ever yoga class may well have been tough and very sweaty as I was not at all good at it physically but even then I laughed. In all honesty I find it very difficult to stay serious in any environment but I am of the opinion – and it is just mine of course – that a yoga class should be an expression of joy, a celebration of life, what your body and mind can do, want to do. Yoga is of course a discipline and a daily expression of harmony between breath, movement, the splendid force of the earth and the beauty of the skies but discipline doesn’t have to align with dull and sad. A discpline like going to church or going to yoga class CAN and should be a joy, a beautiful gift you are offering yourself. The very fact that you have found yourself in a yoga class probably means that you are looking for something that is missing in your daily life. You might just be seeking some physical release but there is a high chance that you are looking to release some emotional shit too.
If you frown and tighten your jaw line what happens to your face and your body. What messages are you sending to your external and as such your internal being ? Try it. Frown, tighten you face, be super serious for a moment and do a simple yoga pose like Tadasana (standing straight) and lift your arms to the sky. Observe your body. Then relax your face, smile, inhale and do the same thing lift your arms above your head. I can guarantee it is NOT the same experience.
In the Yoga Sutras we are offered the expression of Sthira Sukham Asanam – a posture should be stable, confortable and joyful ! It is written there in black and white !
I still do not go to Catholic Mass – maybe I should – but every day I recreate my own church of joy on my yoga mat. A huge smile on my face and my body, mind and breath become an expression of the joy of living during my yoga session. The whole experience becomes way more like a Gospel Church on a simple external level but also on a visceral, vibrational level.
So I invite you the next time you go to your yoga class or roll out your mat at home before you even start your session take a breath and SMILE for this is an incredible opportunity to enjoy the simple fact that you are alive and have a right to smile your way joyfully through your yoga practice !
Written by Charlotte Saint Jean a Yoga Teacher in France, based in the Savoie mountains and the ski resort of Val d’Isère, mama to two great daughters (www.yogicmummy.blogspot.com), founder of the french online yoga web site www.yogachezmoi.com and creator of the Yoga Festival in Val d’Isère (www.yoga-festival-valdisere.com)
Find Charlotte here……