5 Simple Ways to Inspire a Smile

Happiness consists in giving and in serving others.

Henry Drummond

It's no secret that like love, joy is a universal language. It's understood by every culture, and even across species. This form of energy can inspire world-changing ideas, solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems, or simply turn someone's frown upside down. Joy is a powerful thing, and igniting it in others is one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences in life.

One of the most simple and profound ways to do this is to inspire a smile. Smiling is gesture of joy, and most of the time, we find ourselves smiling almost as a force of our being – our bodies command the smile of us when we see something silly, cute, or otherwise delightful, and the sensations of joy are sure to follow.

Here are five simply ways to inspire a smile in others:

1. Surprise!

I've found that one of the most defeating elements of life is the feeling of monotony. I've seen it in students, in friends and family members, and in myself. When you feel like the current set of situations is all there is, even if you know this to be untrue, a deep sense of lethargy and boredom can set in. In extreme cases, this can turn to a feeling of desperation and depression.

That being said, I've also found that surprises, both big and small, can be a tremendous way to shake people out of this. It can be a gift or something completely non-material, but surprises have a way of reminding people that life is full of variety. What is doesn't always have to be, especially when you choose to do something about it.

2. Random Act of Kindness

Overburdening ourselves with work, school, or even groceries on the walk home isn't uncommon. You can probably think of a few friends or family members who seem to be overloaded with responsibility. Likewise, you've probably seen complete strangers struggling with things obviously too big for one person to handle.

This is when an unsolicited helping hand can make a huge difference. Whether if its someone you know or someone you've never even met, your simple action of reaching out and helping another can not only inspire a smile, but inspire a change in attitude for an entire day, if not longer. Make it a personal challenge to drop what you're doing and help another the next time you see the need. You might be surprised with the results.

3. Public Display of Positivity

This is sort of like a random act of kindness on a grandiose scale. I like to think of public displays of positivity as something of an example-setting exercise. It's a behavior exhibited by an incredibly few people, ever, and the reactions of bystanders can range wildly.

An example might be holding a sign with a positive message, playing music without the goal of making money, giving away water or snacks in a park, or otherwise doing something positive in a public place for the purpose of doing something positive. The goal is to inspire that light in people – to get people thinking about what it is they're seeing and why it makes them so happy. It's here that you spread the message of joy at a large level.

4. Donate Your Time

"Time is money" – we've all heard the saying. And to many in the western world, there's nothing more precious than our time. We fiend for it. We defensively guard it from outside influences, like work or imposing responsibilities. We downright value time more than anything, or anyone, else.

And that's what makes donating your time so powerful. No matter where you live or what you do, there are causes that deal with the hardest parts of society that need your help. From animal shelters to low-income or homeless support centers to environmental non-profits, a good cause is never hard to find. And when you do find one, actively pursuing it and volunteering your time shows a lot to the people involved.

5. Donate Something Else

For some, donating time is literally something that just isn't possible. But that doesn't mean you can't pass along the good things that have come to you in your life. Donating financially or in the form of goods, either new or used, is an incredible way to bring joy to others too. Food, clothes, appliances – all things you might have around your house in some form that you'll actually never use – can directly help others in worse situations than yours. Ask yourself what you might have laying around, and then ask yourself what you have that you don't really need. Chances are, you have a lot in life that you can use to inspire something amazing in others. All you have to do is get it to them.

breathing exercise to boost vitality|

60 Second Breathing Exercise to Boost Vitality

Breathing is a vital function in the body, and we take 10-20 breaths a minute without really even thinking about it. Because of this automatic nature, people tend to pay little mind to how they actually breath. The posture of the body, the duration, and the exhalation are all just done without much thought as to what is going on.

However, by stepping back and focusing on these attributes, you can not only immediately change your level of energy, but you can begin to work on creating good habits for your unfocused breathing. Try this short, 60-second breathing exercise:

60 Second Breathing Exercise

This breathing exercise was provided by professional yoga therapist Felice Rhiannon over at Gaiam. The exercise is meant to help center and revitalize your body, drawing exercise into the blood through slow inhalations and an incremental increase in the length of exhalations. For counting, I find that tapping my leg or the ground near me helps keep my seconds accurate and equal:

Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of two
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of three
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of four
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of five

Repeat this practice 2-3 times (about a minute) slowly returning to your normal breathing pattern. With higher levels of oxygen in your body, you should feel more alert, sharper, and more energized with a sense of bodily presence.

Practicing Better Breathing

As you practice this exercise, it's encouraged to focus on the sensations of the body while breathing. Notice the pressure points, the strains, and the feelings you have with each inhale and exhale. Adjust your posture while you breath to find out what feels best for you. As you work through this daily, try to consciously revisit this outside of the exercise, like at your desk or while you drive. Adjusting yourself and taking the time to center yourself will help you feel energized throughout the day, bringing a sense of clarity and bodily awareness with it.

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Grow Your Grace

Grace is one's simple elegance. It's our stride – our choice of movement through the world. It deals with our interaction with the people, places and natural state that surrounds us and exists within us. Grace, in this context, represents an undeserved kindness. It is a kindness "conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver."

In this, grace relates to an alignment between one and the way things naturally ought to operate – the connection and partnership that exists between all beings. Consider the phrase, "She moved with grace." It speaks to one's unity to, even cooperation with, the direction of the universe.

And it's here that grace is a powerful moral and spiritual element in life too. It illustrates an approach to behavior – literally one's action and choice of dao (path) – that commands us to act honorably and to treat all others with respect, regardless if it is deserved. It represents a faithfulness to this belief, and for billions today, grace is at the heart of what is involved in our practice of meditation and mental solace.

It's the homage one pays to those beliefs, representing the continuity between our morals, our actions, and God, regardless of specific belief system.

Growing Grace this May

May is a time of incredible growth. Spring begins its bloom, and life blooms with it, symbolizing birth, rebirth, and natural innocence. It's a beautiful month – a time when the trees, flowers, and much of Mother Earth, blossom. It's the beginning of summer, and a time of love, beauty and youth.

This beauty is at heart of May.

In Ayurveda, the emphasis on renewal too exists. The Kapha season has now dominated our bodies for a few months, and a fluidity naturally exists in the world around us, as well as in our bodies. Toxins, which can accumulate in the body, are now more prone to be "loose" due to the fluid nature of world. Spring cleaning, both for the home and for the body (in the form of detoxes or adjustments in  diet), are especially effective during this time.

This fluidity, rebirth, and growth creates a unique opportunity for grace. It provides an open environment of change – an opportunity to revisit, rethink, and reapply our mental energy toward gracefulness in the world.

Join Today, Grow your Grace this May

This month, Yogi Surprise is including some special gifts that help you focus on these elements of reorientation, and we're keeping grace in mind. You'll discover inspirational treasures that help align you with a positive, intentional, and harmonious relationship with the world. We can't wait to share them with you.

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3 Great Activities for Spring

Spring is here. And it may be surprisingly so. "Where did the last four months go?" Your guess is as good as mine, but frankly, I'm looking forward to the warming days of summer ahead.

For now, though, it's spring, a season that holds plentiful activities that are great for reinvigorating your health after a long winter slumber. It's a time when you begin to find yourself venturing back outdoors (maybe because the snow pack is finally melted!) or eyeing those pots for this years garden. With the days going quickly, here are some of the best activities perfect for the Spring season:

1. Plant! That! Garden!

It's undeniable. Spring is one of the best times of the year to be planting. Rather than having to watch those cover crops grow with grey skies above, you get to see blooming flowers, bountiful fruits and veggies take shape, and the little beings of nature come back to say hello. The best part? Gardening can be an extremely simple and rewarding experience. You don't have to do it big to do it right, and simply put, there's nothing like literally enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Here's a few tips to get you going:

  • Find out what grows best in your area, and specific planting dates.
  • Clear out your gardening area of weeds, or if you're using pots, make sure you have your spots chosen with sunlight and other environmental factors in mind (like avoid pine needles, etc)
  • Load up on your organic soil and plant foods. I always buy one extra bag than I think I need because let's get real: spilling happens a lot.
  • Get your friends and family on board! Planting is a ton of fun, especially with others. Beware of water fights!

2. Cardio is Making a Come Back

If you're like me, winter winds tend to, well... discourage winter runs. The truth is, cardio is one of the best forms of exercise when it comes to wanting to feel more energized. If you're feeling sluggish, lethargic, or low-energy this April, take to the trail or track. An hour or so of cardio a day, working up to a few miles a week, can do wonders for your body and help get you back into shape for your summer vacation plans.

Pick out some nice trails near you, get yourself back into nature, and urge loved ones to do the same. Just like gardening, getting others to come along can turn something that feels like work into a simply fun activity.

3. Soirée, Yes Please.

Along with the theme of getting friends and fam to join you on the trail, take the warming season as an opportunity to plan a party and invite over those who mean most to you. At this point, it's been a few months since the traditional "invite over everyone" holidays, so now's a great time to rekindle some friendships, catch up over kombucha or wine, and otherwise just relaxed with good buddies.

If your weather allows it, I suggest finding a nice tree in your yard or at the park with an outlet not too far away. String up some lights, get a small grill, and whip of some veggies and bite-size delights while you reminisce under the stars.

Hello, Spring!

As each day grows longer, remember to align yourself with the energy of the season. Push yourself to wake with the sun, be productive and luminous throughout your day, and literally bloom into the summer-time you. Getting out in nature is one of the best ways to inspire this feeling, and you've likely already felt that special spark after seeing the cherry blossoms take blooms and gardens slowly come alive. The outdoors are waiting!

Have any special places this season? Tell us in the comments below!

4 Nights at Lumeria Eco Boutique Retreat in Maui

Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii, and to many, it's one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  Perfect beaches meet incredible sea life, and a unique blend of modernity and small-town charm make it a diverse getaway destination. This April, Yogi Surprise is excited to send one lucky winner to Lumeria Maui, a serene eco boutique retreat located on the North Shore of Maui.

Win a 5 Day, 4 Night Yoga & Wellness Getaway in Maui, Hawaii

This incredible Wellness Week is located on Lumeria's brilliantly restored & award-winning compound, originally built in 1910. The enchanting six-acre property resonates a restorative, renewing energy, connecting you to the balance and harmony of the island. The atmosphere is bar none: tropical fauna and organic gardens sprinkle the grounds, and your evening stroll comes complete with expansive island, mountain, and ocean views. You'll rise each morning to refreshing airs carried across the Pacific and have open access to daily yoga and movement classes.

Serenity awaits.

Here's Lumeria's official invitation to you:

Lumeria Maui - Retreat, Recalibrate and Restore… we offer 25 individually appointed guest rooms, situated on six lush acres that envelops you in an intimate environment of barefoot elegance. In addition to daily yoga, enjoy meditation classes, wellbeing treatments, water sports activities, relax in our hammocks, enjoy our saline pool and jacuzzi located in our lower courtyard, enjoy fresh organic farm-to-table dining…after dinner enjoy an evening by one of our outdoor fire-pits. Lumeria Maui is located 9 miles above Kahului Airport (OGG) and 3 miles above the historic plantation town of Paʻia on Maui’s North Shore.

April Yoga & Wellness Getaway includes: 

  • 4 night stay at Lumeria Maui
  • 4 delicious lunches
  • Open access to Lumeria's Yoga & Movement courses, like Hatha, Anusara & Breath Movement seminars
  • Travel Credit to Maui
  • Must be redeemed by 12/31/15

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