Happy Days

Find your inner smile and delight in these playful poses.
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Find your inner smile and delight in these playful poses.
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After 45 years of practice, Lilias Folan believes that proper alignment is important, but not if it causes overthinking or harsh self-judgments. First and foremost, she wants you to connect with the joy and "juiciness" of the present moment. To do this, the star of the long-running TV hit Lilias! Yoga and You keeps the movements simple and encourages smiles that lift the cheek muscles.

During a long hold of a difficult pose, Folan will ask, "Do you still love me?" which usually gets people smiling. "A genuine smile can help you connect to your bliss body," she says. She also loves to suggest fun poses, like Victory Goddess Pose: Open your mouth, lift your eyebrows, stick out your tongue, and wiggle it around. This is one of Folan's favorites.

But the practice isn't all fun and games. Folan's ultimate aim is to draw you out of the realm of your mind, with its discursive thought patterns, and into your heart. So, while paying attention to physical alignment, she asks you to observe your thoughts and cultivate gratitude and a sense of wonder throughout the practice. And if a posture's uncomfortable, adjust it to honor your body.

"Don't omit—adapt," she says, until you can softly smile while in a pose. As you work your physical body, become aware of your witness self: that ever-present inner friend. "You feel more and think less. We eventually come to a still, quiet, aware place that's quite joyful," she says.

To Begin

Sit on a folded blanket. Close your eyes and observe your breath for a minute. Check in with your witness self at the start of your practice. The witnessing part of yourself does not judge. It simply observes and accepts what is happening, like a best friend.

Resurrection. Turn your head to the left. Forcibly exhale air through your mouth, in two or three short exhalations.

Symbolically, you are letting go and "dying" to the past. As you inhale, slowly return your head to center and bring a sense of resurrection and renewal to this eternal present moment.

Watch: A video of this Home Practice sequence can be found online at yogajournal.com/livemag.

To Finish

Twist. Bring your knees to your chest and, as you exhale, drop them to the right. Gently turn your head to the left. Wringing out the torso quiets the body and mind. Repeat on the other side.

Take a one-minute vacation. Enjoy Savasana (Corpse Pose) with your jaw soft and cheeks lifted. Find your inner smile. Ponder all the blessings in your life. Rest in this timeless moment.

Watch: A video of this Home Practice sequence can be found online at yogajournal.com/livemag.