I recently viewed the yoga routine of the man who recently won the USA Yoga Competition in California, March 6th. His name is Joseph, and his yogic ability is amazing. His body is muscular, lean and strong. His poses are flawless and absolutely unbelievable. In particular the Scorpion and Peacock poses are something to behold, perhaps the You Tube video I am watching is a CGI image and not a real person… I viewed the video a few times, picking up some pointers for myself to apply to my yoga practice, but what stood out to be the most beautiful detail I notice is the smile on his face before during and after the poses. He appeared relaxed and truly happy as he contorted and levitated his rock solid body. So this evening during my Bikram practice, I thought of Joseph’s smile and added the upward curving of the corners of my mouth to my postures. It was particularly humid and sticky in the yoga room this evening, and I felt a bit like passing out at times. I had a flash in my mind of some photos of the devastation in Japan and felt that I had absolutely no right to gripe… My life is wonderful and I am fortunate to be able to partake in this yoga class. No complaints, my inner voice said, just smile. So smile I did, throughout most of the practice and here’s what happened. I relaxed more into the poses, I went further and deeper, I touched my forehead to my thumbs in the forward bend, in Rabbit pose I actually had my forehead touch my knees (this rarely happens, and this is my least favorite pose), but a simple smile helped me get through the struggle.
A smile can also go a long way when we are on the receiving end as well. Writer Maya Angelou told the story when she was a young girl living in the South, and being a victim of extreme racism, she would walk with her head down, never making eye contact with anyone. One day a very well coiffed, fancily dressed white woman passed her on the street, stopped, looked her in the eyes, smiled a huge beaming smile and said “Good Morning” and then proceeded to walk away. In her story, Maya Angelou said this moment changed her life, this simple smile and brief act of kindness and acknowledgement moved her greatly, gave her a sense of self-worth. She began to walk with her head up high and proud and was sure to smile and say hello to every single person she passes in life.
So this is so very simple, this act of smiling, but we do not seem to do it enough. Yes, there is pain and suffering all around us. But really we are all in this messed up world together. Wouldn’t it be a better existence if we all regarded one another and exchanged a simple smile…. and if more people practiced some yoga as well… wow… can you imagine how tolerant and flexible people’s viewpoints would become….
So I dare you… SMILE!!!!