Finding Peace on a Yoga Mat

Grateful for a peaceful moment
Grateful for a peaceful moment

Peace is a word I throw around a lot, but my quest for peace is very serious to me.  On a personal level, it appears to be a simple concept and easy enough to achieve.  It would seem that a little free time in a beautiful setting on a day with moderate weather surrounded by pleasant sounds while alone or with someone you love would be all you would need to find that thing we call peace.

We say things like “I hope you find peace” when someone experiences a loss, but in an average life, peace is not something you find and check off your bucket list.  Our peace will be tested day after day and awareness and the use of tools like Yoga, Pranayama (breath work) and Meditation can help us to maintain and regain calm.

Very often people come to see me because they are experiencing a lot of stress in their life and they are searching for a way to feel relieved of some of that stress.  We will talk for a while about their lifestyle and things going on with their body and then I help them find a comfortable seated position to begin focusing on the breath.  We close our eyes and I direct them to begin breathing in and out through the nose slowly.  I cue them to let the breath begin in the belly, rise into the lungs, then the chest then the throat on the inhales, then letting if fall out sequentially the other way on the exhales.  I will count slowly to four as we breathe in and slowly to four as we breathe out.  I may even play with holding the breaths at the top of the inhalation for four counts and then holding the breaths at the bottom of the exhalation for four counts.  I finally leave them in silence to simply sit with every ounce of their attention focused on the breath; where it goes, how it feels, how it sounds, how it moves the body.

When we finally open our eyes and bring our attention back into the room and on each other, this student who had just expressed lots of tension in his life and body is amazed at how differently he feels from simply sitting down and focusing on his breath.  When we add asana, or poses, we add a challenge to keep breathing and stay calm regardless of the sensations in the body, which is effective at training ourselves to find peace in every situation.  Presence is as connected to peace as our skin is connected to our bodies.  Presence holds us together.  Anxiety is created by memories of the past and anticipations of the future. Being reminded of the moment we are experiencing right now helps us to tap into a place deeper than just our thoughts and that can feel like peace.

May you be healthy, may you be happy and my you find moments of peace in each day.

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