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On Being Joyful

When did we stop the pursuit of joy and start focusing on coping?

On Being Joyful
Photography by Katie Bush

When I teach my yoga class, my students attend in an effort to help cope with their lives of stress and overwhelm. They often ask me to provide them with strategies to deal with their anxiety and ways to work through their depression. Or, they’re clamoring for new methods to be more productive—to do more and be more. What I’ve noticed, though, is that nobody asks me how they can find more joy.

Today, I practice and teach yoga because it makes me feel joyful and peaceful—like I’ve reconnected with myself. But, if I’m being honest, I first fell in love with yoga because it helped me cope with a life that was slowly suffocating my joy.

Our system has cast our eyes down and outward while looking for external validation. Everything seems to be done with the motivation of fitting yourself into the system and forgetting your true purpose—or worse yet, not attempting to find your true purpose. As a result, things like yoga and meditation become coping mechanisms and ways to help us better fit in rather than a means to joy and self-expression.

So now I am planning each class I teach as a celebration of life. Progressing through movement as to shrug off the day’s worries and building to poses to remind my participants of the magnificent beings they are. My desire is that they leave each class with a reminder of how joyful it is to be alive.

And in doing so, I’m reminded of my own privilege in providing my fellow humans with an ancient practice that brings them back to who they are—something removed from our modern-day matrix. That itself fills with me with joy, and it is my simple service.

Over time, I’ve learned that looking for the simple ways to serve people in joy is how I find my joy, relieve my stresses, and settle anxiety.

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