I have been focusing on joy this month, to balance the world a little, as this feeling is scarce at the moment. With my yoga philosophy teacher, James Boag, I have been studying the Foundations of Yoga. One of the sessions was on the puruṣārthas, the four aims of life. One of the things that stayed with me from the class is the idea that it is our duty to enjoy life. Life is a gift! But how to perform this duty in such hard times as we live today? Where do we get the skills from?
My dear Rosina, who I will remember specially fondly this weekend (as it is Halloween, where the separation between the living and the dead is gossamer thin), famously said ‘JOY IS A CHOICE’. My wonderful friend Emma, a great yogin, artist and also Rosina’s student, carefully printed, in pink lettering, Rosina’s saying in a compact mirror. I treasure this so much. The reminder, reflected on my face as I look in the mirror, always works. I have a choice. If I am overworked, I have a choice to say no. If I am sad, I have a choice to remember what I am grateful for. Joy is indeed a choice and I have the power to summon it.
These are a few things that bring me joy: seeing sunset or sunrise, starting and ending my day with silence, breathing consciously, reading before sleeping, my hot water bottle, Neil’s healing hugs, seeing my students in the morning, Kate’s count in yoga class, Kia asking us to wave, hearing my mother answering the phone, my dad asking me what the weather is like where I am, being sent photos of my niece, my friend’s banter, Emma’s compact with Rosina’s words, backbends(!), having coffee after practice, the three things I am offering you below …
What does it mean to practice yoga with joy? How does one breathe joyously? What brings you joy?