My to-do list today made me cry.
It is, no kidding, two pages long. My car is in the shop and I have to teach two private yoga classes, meanwhile, my youngest son is asking me “what are we going to do today?” The pressure from outside is making the agitation in my mind sound like my “on-it’s-last-leg” washing machine right now. I feel exhausted. I barely catch myself, “Anna, don’t allow outside circumstances to steal your peace.”
As Mahatma Gandhi said:
Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace, to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
To go inside and find peace, I trust yoga; the union of the higher-self (unaffected by outside circumstances) with the lower-self (the one who is easily bothered).
Here are some of my favorite yogic tools you can practice right here and now to bring you to your center:
Prāṇāyāma- Just Breathe
The first and the best is the breath.
Take one long inhale through the nose, feel the end of that inhale, how it lingers for a moment and then exhale as slowly as possible and feel for the end of that exhale, notice how there is a pause. It may help to close your eyes when you do this so you can feel the endpoints. Make sure that when you inhale your body expands and when you exhale, it contracts. When we get upset our breath changes, it becomes shallow, short and quick.
Being aware of how your breath forces you into the present moment, the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind. — Eckhart Tolle
Ahiṃsā Yoga Diet – Practice peace through your diet
The yogic diet is one of Ahimsa (non-harming) to you and others. A yogic diet relates to eating to nourish the body and having a healthy relationship with food. You can start to-day by avoiding processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and try a vegetarian diet. Learn to be a proper vegetarian so that you can nourish your body correctly. If you are already a vegetarian, then work on fine-tuning your diet to become a vegan.
As you move toward a more compassionate diet, you may notice an increase in kindness, joy, and peace.
If you control what you put into and what comes out of your mouth, you have controlled much of your mind already. — Sri Dharma Mittra
Asana – Move your body
Yoga asanas (postures) are designed to increase flexibility and release tension and bring you to homeostasis. When you combine the movement with the breath, that’s when you spark the magic.
Here’s a short sequence you can try:
- Step right foot forward
- Inhale; arms up
- Exhale; forward fold
- Inhale; lift your torso up half way
- Exhale; forward fold
- Inhale; lift arms and rise
- Exhale; arms down
Practice 5 times on each side
Atha Yoga-Anuśāsanam – Be in the Moment
The guidelines for a yogi by Sri Patanjali (200 A.D), is the Yoga Sutras. YS 1.1 says: “Now is the practice of yoga.”
The subtle meaning of this sutra is: Anytime you’re in the now, you are practicing yoga. He is talking about single-tasking, not multitasking. When you eat, try only to eat, noticing the color and the texture, taste, and smell. When you listen to someone, only listen. Be in the moment for more peace.
How many times can you single-task, today?
Inhale and Exhale Then Let Go (of unhealthy attachments)
Yoga Sutra I.33: By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind will retain its undisturbed quality of peace and calm.
Yogis believe that you can put the people you know into these four categories and how to treat them for your sanity:
- Sukha – content people; share in their happiness instead of being jealous.
- Dukha – unhappy people; treat them with compassion.
- Punya – virtuous people; treat them with delight and cultivate some of their qualities.
- Apunya – the wicked; Patanjali suggests treating them with indifference.
How to sustain this? Patanjali has two suggestions for you: Abhyasa, which means practice continuously and Vairagya, meaning, don’t be attached to the outcome.
You can measure the progress in your yoga practice by the amount of peace you feel in your daily life and how you share that with others. — Anna Laurita
If you’d like to learn more Yogic tools for Peace, join Davannayoga’s Annual Yoga Retreat in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in February 2018.
- Beezhold and Johnston: Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal 2012 11:9 (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-11-9.pdf)
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar, The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
- Forbes Article: Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/05/08/why-single-tasking-makes-you-smarter/#cd0816650636