Today, everything is about being happy.
And if you're sad, people just tell you to simply be happy or think of something you are thankful for.
That's easier said than done.
The culture of "choosing" happiness is said, but not understood.
We put so much pressure on being happy that we ignore the feelings and thoughts creating the sadness, which causes more turmoil inside our minds and bodies.
I was lucky enough to cross paths with a yoga teacher who puts emphasis on mental health as well as physical well-being.
From my first class, I was hooked.
During our practice, she always reminded us to connect to our breath as a way to be present, to stop thinking.
And if our minds started wandering, we were to reconnect with our breath and not think ahead.
For me personally, it is not only the stronger yoga body that has given me more emotional strength.
It’s the breath work and composure that she has taught me.
She has taught me to breathe deeply and calmly in difficult asanas, and that has transferred to breathing deeply and calmly during difficult situations and times in life.
I've always been conscious of eating well and being aware of what I put into my body.
I was the gluten-free, organic, veggie-loving woman before it became mainstream.
But for a long time, I was superficially working out and ignoring my mental health, and I didn't understand why I felt like crap while eating well and kickboxing five times a week.
Through yoga, however, I learned to care about what I put in my mind through my practice.
I was able to gradually free myself from the intensity of anxiety, sadness and anger.
I was able to become aware of the emotions when I felt them, and I did not let them take over my days.
I finally connected my mind, body and soul.
I have learned I am responsible for not only my actions, but also my thoughts.
By examining what is in my mind, I can identify negative thoughts patterns and ask myself if what I am thinking is real or made from the fear of the unknown.
I became the observer of my mind and was able to feel sad, angry and anxious in the best possible way.
I was beginning to heal whatever emotion was happening in the moment through acknowledgment.
Yoga taught me to accept and commit to a clearer min and to fully be present in the emotions I was experiencing.
We think so much in the future that we forget about now, and yoga reminds us to be fully present.
When you feel sad, acknowledge that you feel sad.
Today, we don't acknowledge it. We just ignore it until it goes away.
We know shoving something under the rug will always make it come back to the surface, yet we hide and hide.
It's an endless circle of helplessness.
Yoga is about helping you get out of your head and into your body.
It's about connecting yourself to your physical being and the way you feel.
By staying grounded in the present moment — the “right here, right now” — you’ll be able to focus on breathing one breath at a time.
The more you breathe, the more alive you are going to feel.
We seem to suffer because we have a deep-seated fear of how things are.
Our attempts to find lasting happiness, satisfaction and security are in conflict with the fact we’re part of a world in which everything and everyone is an ongoing process.
The truth is, nothing happens overnight. We need to accept the journey.
Acknowledge how you feel, and you'll begin living beautifully.
There is nothing wrong with feeling a certain way, but it's your choice to let it overcome you or strengthen you.
But the most important part is understanding why you feel that way.
Yoga and meditation can teach you to sit with the sadness and move through it in the best way.
Yoga can give you the power to identify sad thoughts, consciously let them go and avoid being trapped in your head.
There is such a superficial lens on happiness today. We see filters of pictures and highlight reels of everyone's life.
Which begs me to ask the question, what is true happiness?
Maybe it's the smell of freshly trimmed Christmas trees or lying on a couch on a rainy night, snuggled up warmly.
Happiness is perhaps laughing till your tummy hurts or being surrounded by loved ones.
Happiness is defined for everyone in a different manner.
It is a process, and it takes time. That is why yoga is a practice, a dedication.
Through my own personal practice, I have been able to face my own past hurts and find the root of my suffering to help minimize future suffering.
I use yoga to discover, shed layers of hurt, reconnect and find happiness and peace both on and off my mat.
Perhaps you have no idea what makes you happy, but you are on a journey to find it.
Remember it's okay to feel sadness, anxiety and other emotions along your way.
Acknowledge, breathe. Reconnect with yourself. Practice self-love.
Sending lots of sunflowers, gratitude and happiness your way.