Yoga has become popular as a way to reduce stress, improve flexibility, and boost immunity. But the physical benefits of yoga are only one part of what makes this ancient science so powerful. We all want to find the secret to eternal happiness. And while true happiness can only come from within, some tools can help us connect with our nature more easily. Here are a few ways that yoga can help us find our inner happiness.
1. The Power of Deep Breathing
Yoga is all about the breath. Physically, deep breathing boosts circulation and calms the nervous system. On a more subtle level breathing deeply inspires us to connect with our feelings. You cannot hold your breath when laughing, crying, or fully experiencing any intense emotion, and true happiness requires that we are able to feel everything.
2. Moving Body, Moving Energy
It is challenging to feel happy when we are stagnant, physically or energetically. A complete yoga practice moves the body in every possible direction. This clears stagnation from the body and mind, allowing the energy of happiness to move through us.
3. Increased Vitality
For most people, happiness includes the ability to do what we want with our lives. But it’s hard to do anything when you do not have enough energy. Yoga helps connect us with the infinite source of energy inside, enabling us to have the vitality to follow our dreams (or at least get off the couch).
4. Radical Self-Acceptance
Happiness requires that we are able to see and accept ourselves, without judgment or shame. Yoga teaches this kind of radical self-acceptance. In yoga, we are instructed to simply observe our bodies and minds with compassion. Over time, this gentle witnessing allows for the development of self-love – a key component of inner happiness.
5. Don’t Miss the Moment
Experiencing happiness is about paying attention. People who appear to have everything can be totally miserable if they are caught up in worry or planning. And people who do not have seemingly perfect lives can be content if they are aware of the beauty and blessings of the moment. Yoga teaches us to notice and appreciate what is happening in the present moment.
6. Health Is Wealth
While inner happiness is available to anyone at anytime, it can be a lot easier to access when we feel healthy. Yoga has been proven to increase immunity and support the health of the entire body. Being healthy makes feeling your happiness that much easier, and enables you to enjoy more of your life.
7. Focusing on What You Want
While it is not sustainable to gloss over the challenging or negative parts of life, we also do not want to wallow. Yoga helps us to be careful about where we place our attention. It inspires us to set clear intentions, first on the mat and then in our lives. It helps us look for the way through our challenges, rather then getting stuck on what is not working.
8. Perseverance Training
If you have ever stayed that extra breath in a Warrior pose you know what it means to persevere through challenge. Truly happy people have that skill, as well. Happiness sometimes comes through our ability to ride out the waves of life and stay true to our visions, dreams, and heart.
9. When You Lose, Don’t Lose the Lesson
Yoga inspires us to stay curious about our bodies, to trust the process. There is no success or failure in yoga, it is all about simply showing up. In our lives, this can translate to looking for the blessing in any challenge and the lesson in every supposed failure. Then we remain more connected to inner happiness, whatever might be happening in our lives.
10. Learning How to Receive
Every yoga class ends with Savasana, a time to completely rest and receive. We can only be as happy as our capacity to receive will allow. We may have everything we always wanted, but if we are too focused on “doing” rather than “being,” we could completely miss the joy. Yoga teaches us to do both, to find the balance of working and resting, to let in the happiness we so long to experience.
Happiness is an elusive, indefinable experience. It is not something we can buy, earn, or bring in from outside of ourselves. Happiness is a choice. Happiness is the way we travel, not some destination we will reach one day. Some would even say that happiness is our natural state, and everything else is an illusion.
Yoga helps us to find this innate inner happiness by training us to notice the blessings in our lives, set clear intentions, and trust the process. A consistent yoga practice can help us recognize and expand the happiness that is already inside of us, all the time.