When it comes to meditation, mindfulness and happiness, it seems like yoga is a crucial part of the equation. But a lot of people are skeptical. How are a couple of handstands going to help me find happiness?
I’ve been teaching yoga for 3 years now, and I’m going to do my best to explain how yoga can be used to find more happiness in life. How does yoga combine meditation with movement? How can yoga help with your balance, both mentally and physically? This article will contain the answers.
If you’re one of the people that’s not sure whether or not yoga is for you, allow me break it down for you!
- How yoga can improve your movement and meditation
- A monk’s guide to happiness
- How does yoga help you find happiness?
- Closing words
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
How yoga can improve your movement and meditation
Yoga is all about movement and meditation. In order to fully experience the benefits of yoga for your happiness, it’s important to be aware of both.
People who are into yoga often use the words Asana and Dhyana for these two aspects, which originate from Hindu culture. Asana is used to describe yoga poses, while dhyana stands for meditation.
The benefits of practicing movement through yoga
Yoga is a beautiful way to move your body. The movement you find on your mat works every muscle, every joint, and every ligament in your body.
I started practicing yoga to help look after my scoliosis. Yoga helped me understand my body and my back, but it’s helped me to look at those ‘pain points’ within my body as a positive. Because with those ‘pain points’ comes queries and questions, and with those queries and questions comes answers as to how to look after our bodies and feel good. And boy, does yoga make your body feel good.
There are many different types of yoga styles, so I would always encourage everyone to explore and experiment different lineages of yoga and find the best one for you. Here are just a few of them:
- Vinyasa – continuous movement, creative like a dance, linking the breath to the movement of the body
- Rocket – designed to get you there faster, an energizing power practice full of handstands and all the fun stuff!
- Yin – the complete opposite to power yoga, a calming soft and relaxed practice, holding a set of postures for multiple minutes to encourage the muscles to lengthen with time, creating more space in the body
- Power yoga – fast, energizing, think HITT on your yoga mat!
- Ashtanga – a demanding series of set postures all designed to work the body, carried out in an orderly structure.
- Hot yoga – think Vinyasa or Ashtanga in a sauna (35-42 degrees)! A fabulous way to sweat through your yoga practice, where the muscles relax and lengthen more as a direct reaction from the heat! (Definitely one of my favorites!)
I teach Vinyasa and Yin, which both compliment the body and mind. If you want to experience the benefits of yoga, you can book a class with me here. If you email with a mention of Tracking Happiness, I’ll give you a free class…to make you happy! 🙂
Practicing meditation (Dhyana) for better happiness
In addition to the movement of your physical asana practice, yoga has a strong connection to meditation. The work you do on your mat becomes a moving meditation. However, yoga isn’t always about the relationship you have with your mat. More so, yoga is about the work you do off your mat – in meditation.
On a more personal note, I struggle with meditation. But there are extra ways within the tools of yoga to help practicing meditation. Meditation can be done seated, standing, listening to music, gazing into candlelight, even when walking the dog or dropping the kids off to school! Meditation can be 10mins or 2 hours – whatever works for you.
Here’s a good introduction on why meditation is so important if you’re interested.
When we can calm the mind down, and learn to meditate, our relationship changes to the world and the reactions it demands from us. This makes us more calm and relaxed, ultimately giving us more peace and happiness.
A monk’s guide to happiness
This video beautifully explains how meditation is made up of three things:
Over and over again. And if your physical asana practice is a moving meditation, then notice the journey of your breath returning over and over again throughout your yoga class.
Gelong Thubten also beautifully describes how your meditation practice is like the sky:
Your mind is the sky and your thoughts are the clouds… let them pass by.Gelong Thubten
How does yoga help you find happiness?
If you’re still on the verge of yoga and are a bit skeptical, here are 4 more reasons why yoga can improve the happiness in your life.
1. Yoga helps you find your “why”
Yoga connects movement and meditation. You are bringing your mind, body and soul all together, through your asanas, through your dhyana and through your pranayama (breath). All of this together helps bring you into the present moment so you can experience happiness, achievement, peace, and connection to self, all together.
When you’re connected to your inner-self, it helps you find your “why” in life. Your why is your driving force, to power through those tough times, your reason to exist, and your reason to get up in the morning when you have no energy.
Personally, my “why” is to be ‘strong and confident on and off the mat.’
- Strong and confident on my mat with my asanas (arm balances, inversions, headstands, handstands – you know, all the fun stuff but all the hard stuff!)
- Strong and confident off my mat in daily life and the challenges it brings (enter Covid-19 and lockdown!)
So, I would urge you to find your “why”. And if you don’t know what it is – that’s fine. Explore it, dance around it, then connect and nurture it through your yoga practice.
2. Yoga helps with your balance (both physically and mentally)
So, not only do we learn how to balance on the mat in poses like Dancers Pose or Crow Pose, or Handstand…but through the philosophy of yoga and learning yoga off the mat, we learn to balance life on and off the mat.
This is one of my favorite areas to work on to create a well-balanced and happy life. We need to continuously work on all areas within our lives to keep us balanced, happy and healthy.
If you’re interested in a fun exercise that will help you find balance in your life, click the link below to immediately access the My Balance Bible Wheel exercise. This opens up a PDF file that will take you through some exercises that will help you achieve balance in life, on or off the yoga mat!
3. Find happiness through achievement
Okay, so I know we shouldn’t mark ourselves against success, but we’re only human, right?
Through the physical asanas you practice on your mat, you can see the fruits of your labor as you come back again and again to your mat. What I noticed early on in my yoga practice was how you could easily measure your success and development.
There is nothing like the feeling of trying to balance in Pincha (forearm arm balance with legs in the air) – a pose you might have been trying to accomplish for ages – for you to finally ‘get it’ and hold it, and nail the arm balance, if only for 2 seconds! The smile on your face stretches from ear to ear as you punch the air with your fist and you do a little happy dance!
All the hard work you do prior to that ‘get it’ moment has paid off – this is known as ‘the edge.’
The edge is where we come up right up against ourselves and what we can do and be. It is the boundary between where we are and where we grow, the place of comfortable discomfort, where all the growing and healing happens. The edge is the point in every pose when you are still within your capacities but are challenging yourself to go just a little bit farther. Stepping up to this edge and daring to leap is how you break through and thus break with old ways of being.Journey Into Power – Baron Baptiste
Last but not least on my little list (it was hard to narrow it down to only 4!) is friends. Making new friends through new loves, new passions, new hobbies, is always good, and always delivers happiness!
Cherish the new friendships and new journeys your friendships take you on – yoga retreats in Ibiza or Portugal, yoga festivals in the English countryside – you name it I’ve done it! And all with friends and smiles on our faces!
So there you have it folks, my top 4 ways to find happiness through yoga. Yoga is a practice that makes you more mindful and more present – so ask yourself this: why wouldn’t you want to be more mindful of your happiness? Why would you want to maybe take that happiness for granted?
Next time you smile, take the time out and witness the feeling in your cheeks as your lips curl up either end and your eyes widen with excitement and happiness! Enjoy the moment. And hey, this could even be your meditation for the day! Embrace it!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about yoga, then please feel free to get in touch. If you want to experience the benefits of yoga for yourself, you can book a class with me here. Email me with a mention of Tracking Happiness and I’ll give you a free class! 🙂
Anna KichensideYoga teacher
Anna is a yoga teacher who teaches with a strong emphasis of asking her students to find and connect to their “why”. Your “why” is a driving force that guides you through life. Anna teaches Vinyasa and Yin, and her classes are relaxed and friendly.