Happy Thursday Big Rock Yoga CommUNITY! As the Arkansas heat and humidity has fully arrived, I hope that you're finding a way to stay cool and celebrate the sunshine! I came across the following quote this week: “A smile is an act of worship.” I interpret the meaning of worship in this context as an action that honors divine creation and light. At the end of many yoga classes, it is common to hear the yoga teacher say, “The light and teacher in me honors the light and teacher in you.” In a similar manner, a smile is a non-verbal synonym of this phrase. A smile shows others that the light in me acknowledges and honors the light in you.
During yoga class, I often find myself so focused on the movement of my legs, arms, shoulders, hips, etc… that I forget my facial expressions. I wasn’t aware of the importance of my facial expressions during my practice until I started teaching. When I am standing in front of the room, or walking around, I am amazed by how serious, frustrated, exhausted, bored, etc. the faces in the room look. As a teacher, it can be intimidating to see your students faces, especially in poses like chair that are more physically demanding. All the tension that the rest of our body is experiening seems to migrate to the face, especially between the eyebrows. I find myself having to remind myself to “soften my gaze.” This works for a moment, but I know that within minutes, I will have forgotten this softness.
While there are many yoga poses that I strive to make part of my practice, the one “pose” that I have made an intention of mastering is my smile. Smiling is an authentic part of my identity. I know that I am prematurely aging and getting crow’s feet wrinkles around my eyes because I spend the majority of my day smiling. I feel safe with a smile on my face. I feel complete. While a smile comes naturally in my daily life, I tend to draw tension into my face and lose my smile during my yoga practice. This isn’t because I am not enjoying it, rather, I am so focused that my energy is being sent to other parts of my body. I’ve made a conscious effort to bring awareness to my facial expressions as well as my body’s movements. Just as I check for alignment of keeping my knee over my ankle in warrior I, I check for lightness and joy in my face. I’m not saying that we should spend all 60 or 90 minutes of a yoga class with a smile on our face, but I do believe that we shouldn’t forget the benefit of including and finding our smile in our yoga practice and in our life.
“A smile is an act of worship.” A worship that acknowledges the light and teacher within ourselves, an in others. Namaste.
All Good Things,