I watched the documentary Enlighten Up! the other day. It has been out for a while now and is available on Netflix instant. The super brief synopsis is that the filmmaker, Kate, loves yoga and decides to recruit a total newbie Nick (who happens to be a journalist) to take on yoga for 6 months. She hopes to prove that "yoga can transform anyone." He agrees to "regular" practice and she carts him around to great teachers in NYC, in the countryside outside NYC, to Hawaii, and ultimately to India to study and interview with both Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar. He also goes with another man he's met on his journey, to an ashram where he meets an enlightened swami. (Just writing this makes me wonder, how come we don't have tons of enlightened swamis just sitting around America ready to meet us and explain the intricacies of life. That would be pretty rad, No?) Ok. So that's the nutshell. You can watch it if you want to find out what happens. This is not an opinion piece on the film.
Instead I offer you the insight I got from watching. Whenever Nick was with a yogi/yogini who'd studied for a long while, someone who was a master teacher on the path I noticed something about that person. No matter how fierce that person was as a teacher or a speaker during the interview, they were also quick to Laugh, and to laugh fully. They were so darn Happy.
A few months ago my boss asked for a statement from each teacher about why we do yoga. I have to admit, I didn't email her back. It was because I couldn't boil it down to the two sentences she was asking for. But now I'm realizing.
I do yoga to be happy.
Just to be stinking happy. Over time my definition of what happiness is, and then what makes me happy has changed. I remember when I was in World Religion 101 the professor said that upon reaching deeper states of enlightenment, one would drop the earlier stages. His explanation was that when we were younger we played with Barbie dolls, and now that we're more mature, we don't have any interest in those anymore. That's how the idea of happiness evolves for me.
At first, going to yoga class and sweating and moving my body made me feel happy. Then doing a handstand on my own (wall assisted mind you) for the first time made me happy. Then being in community. Then being with amazing teachers that touch my soul. Then deep deep learning. Until one day I met my own Heart pulsing with love and now, probably nothing could make me happier in my sadana. It's to the point that I've logged enough time in the eternal space of beauty inside that even when I'm down... I'm still happy. Now the asana, pranayama, meditation time are there to deepen the happiness, and to clear away the dust that accumulates through my day. It didn't happen overnight, but through yoga I got happy, and am getting happier in a real true sense of the word.
I hope to soon become much quicker to laugh too. That part of me has yet to blossom into fullness. I'm reserved in my inner happiness. But all is coming. "Practice, practice, practice, practice. That is the method" so says Pattabhi Jois in the film. Happiness. What a sweet practice to have.