The Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is the highest form of health.”
I think this is something everyone knows, but often times struggles to achieve.
Let’s be real— you can’t always be happy. But to know oneself, to find peace within amidst an unpeaceful situation, to empathize with the outside world, to feel emotions and remain balanced is happiness.
While this is much easier said than done, these are just a few things I have learned to stay focused on through practicing yoga.
All my life, I was a dancer. I spent more time at my studio practicing tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern than at my own home sleeping. I always appreciated the escape, artistry and focus dance gave me and began practicing yoga a bit to keep up my flexibility during my high school years.
In college, my dance practice dropped drastically. I sought out stress relief in yoga but wasn’t consistent and wasn’t healthy. My workouts consisted of running late to class, balancing in 5 inch platforms in snowstorms to frats and talking to hundreds of girls in a heatwave during sorority recruitment. I would eat at odd hours and be constantly stressed, which inhibited my health as well. It was only in my most stressed out of times that I would finally seek out yoga for some relief and I would always feel better after.
Over the past few years since graduating, I’ve become more fond of working out and more consistent with yoga. Since that time, I’ve felt so much healthier and soo much stronger! I truly couldn’t even pick up 5lb weights after college thats how weak I was. But there are many other things yoga has been teaching me as well and they go as follows:
Steady practice leads to steady results: I have never felt stronger since keeping up a daily yoga practice and can see results in my body.
Peaceful mind: While sometimes I do need a good angry workout at the gym and blasting music to relieve some stress, practicing yoga really allows you to quiet your mind and work through your body.
Intention setting: I love yoga teachers that prompt you to set an intention for your practice at the start of class. I often have so many thoughts and intentions and goals in my head that by being prompted to focus on one intention, I feel simplified and lighter.
Being more attune with how emotions effect the body: This is one thing I am just starting to delve into but find it fascinating. By learning about energy centers (or chakras) in yoga, I am able to see where my emotions are making my body more tense or out of whack. Your mind has so much control over your body and I think it is fascinating to take realization in that. For example, my calves right now are very tense, which is associated with trauma, emotional pain and family— thus a block in the root chakra.
Perseverance and progression: A year ago, I could not do a headstand. With persistence, a lot of falling over, a lot of bruises and a lot of practice I finally feel confident in a solid headstand and even feel confident now to start playing in them.
Yoga clothes: What’s better than leggings, yoga pants, and fun prints? There are so many fun places to get great yoga wear right now that I am obsessed with. These leggings are from ALO yoga— who also have a great Instagram.
Community: Whether it is in your studio, in a free outdoor class or even on Instagram. There is a true sense of understanding and admiration in the yoga community, which is just priceless in this crazy life.
So in regards to happiness being the highest form of health, this was a shoot I did with Philadelphia photographer Pano (Check out his awesome Instagram) and it was a very happy day.
The photos were taken in Rittenhouse Square and some quaint neighboring alley roads, some of my favorite spots in Philadelphia. It was a great day. Sunshine, Philly, yoga and lots of play.
Find what makes you happy but know you are the center of creating your own happiness. I suggest practicing yoga. 🙂