By Jessica Hays
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
We are all here for different reasons…. Whether it be stress relief, back pain relief, hip opening, weight loss, serenity, growth in our practice, or simply personal growth – each and every one of us walk into the studio in need of yoga to help us achieve what we seek. This one hour we get on our mat (whether it be once a day or once a week) to grow and work on ourselves inside and out – is unique and special every single time.
There are so many things that can hold us back from growing in our practice – especially in the busy, fast paced world we live in. Maybe traffic was bad on your way into class, your significant other sent you an upsetting message just before you walked in the door, someone you don’t get along with is two mats down from you, your child is at home sick today, or maybe you are just having a rotten day/week/month. Life gets messy, and that is why having a yoga community can be such a beautiful thing.
In the last few weeks, I really struggled in class. I would come in the studio with all of this tension from outside and use my mat to let it out. That is not always bad thing; however I was not helping to generate a joyful, calm environment for myself or anyone else in the studio. Coming into class like that not only stunted the growth in my practice, but it kept my head down, eyes averted, and heart closed. One morning I finally came in calm, care free, and ready to focus. I was able to find my drishti, open my heart, and open my body, and after that class – I made two new friends who encourage me and workout with me outside of class! What I realized that day is that every class can be like that. So I started a new routine – and I would like to share it with you!
First off I try to leave for class early – it gives me time to socialize, stretch, and mentally open myself to gain all that I can from each class. If traffic was bad or something frustrating happened before I get to the studio, I sit in my car for a few minutes and visualize those feelings flying away as I open the car door (even if you are running late, take 30 seconds to center yourself before coming into the studio). My phone – stays in the car, (and I realize that this isn’t always possible) phones are so destructive when it comes to having real life communities. It’s hard to meet new people and start conversations if you are on your phone. Phones are also a major interruption during class (imagine being in savasana and hearing someone’s phone vibrating –it’s happened). Lastly, I come in with the intention of spreading joy and creating an open, friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.
When you come to the front of the studio, shake off whatever distractions or negativity is filling your mind and body, open the door with intention, and come inside ready to greet the hour ahead of you. Get outside of your comfort zone and meet someone new. Imagine how much more enjoyable it will be to work on these goals when you know you have a whole classroom of people supporting you in your practice. What we create in the time we are in the studio on and off the mat, we take with us and spread it to the world. Little by little we can make a difference, and if there is any place to start, it’s here. We may all be here for different reasons, but we are united in a common goal – to grow!
See you in class! Please say hi and spread some joy!