Smiling into 2013

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Exercise, Physical Reboot
Tags: , , ,

First a small procedural note (and large personal note) since I suspect the bulk of the people that actually read this blog are also people I know in real life and the remaining three may be curious as to why I went silent for a month after posting weekly for some time.  The lovely Alicia and I were married on January 11th and flew off to New Zealand for our honeymoon!  No blogging on the honeymoon.  It’s a rule. Really.

And now onto our regularly scheduled programming.

I’ve been doing yoga for about five years now.  One of the pieces of advice that I have heard from several teachers is to set an intention at the beginning of each class to concentrate on a particular aspect of your practice.  This can something as general as trying to relax into poses to something as specific as thinking about how each pose affects a particular muscle.   Last year around about the new year I decided to choose a couple of fairly broad things to use as a backstop on intention setting, since when practicing even a couple of times a week trying something new each time was a bit much for my poor tired brain.   I landed on concentrating on my breathing and thinking about how each exercise affected my core which I think helped my practice over the course of the year.

This year, I am going to continue concentrating on breathings because (a) it’s the hardest part of the practice for me and (b) I’m pretty sure it’s the central part of this whole standing meditation thing.

However, I have decided to do something a bit different for my other intention.  You see, I have this issue that I have no ability to consciously control the difference between a smile a smirk and a grimace.  I try for one and one of the others pops onto my face.  I don’t think I’m particularly unique in this sense.  I even know someone who spent some time as an actress who hates having her picture taken for similar reasons.

This was top of mind at the beginning of the year since we hired a photographer for our wedding day and we were about to embark on a honeymoon which would involve a few pictures.  But I can’t bring myself to spend time in front of a mirror to practice smiling.  I don’t know why.  I just can’t.  So sorry.  So when in the middle of the second set of Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pose) I heard the teacher say “relax, look like you’re enjoying this, smile” I fell over.  But after I got back up it occurred to me that I spend a decent amount of time in front of a mirror in a context where smiling is encouraged although not often seen.  So I am going to try to smile in yoga more and perhaps I’ll occasional end up smiling for the camera rather than smirking or grimacing or otherwise contorting my face in an unpleasant way.

Unfortunately, this whole revelation was too late for the wedding and honeymoon photos, but luckily the joy of the occasion skewed the odds in favor of the smile.  Hopefully the intention will still help my yoga practice and I imagine there will be some future occasion that requires me to mug for a camera (hopefully not soon though).

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