in light of the current state of affairs, our practice is simply that of peace. there are so many dynamics of energy at play. no matter what side we find ourselves on, it can be taxing on us all. We are tired, emotional, angry, confused, hurt. We feel limited in one way or another.
Yesterday, I made it into a morning yoga class at Urth Yoga somehow, fighting a cold, tears, exhaustion and some strange, unfamiliar sense of hopelessness. I wasn't too inspired to move and I wasn't to inspired to try. But I went anyway. The teacher, Arjuna, opened the practice by acknowledging to all of us students that he felt that very same way and actually secretly wished no one had shown up, because, well, he didn't really know what to teach given the current climate. He then continued on to remind us that it wasn't too long after students began rolling in that he remembered "why yoga". He reminded us that yoga is a tool, the tool, that we are lucky enough to have at our disposal to remember how to move through things and cope with things and manage how we deal with times of unrest- whatever form or situation- so that we can create peace. Even if that peace is small, momentary, and as short as a breath. He said, "at least there's yoga". And sometimes, when there isn't too much else we can do, we can practice. And while it might not seem like much, it is a safe place for us to come back to center and realign with the good, with our spirits. Our practice is the place where we can remember to problem solve gracefully rather than erratically, so that the good within us is able to align with the way we perceive our outer world, act in it, and weave through it- and even more than that, hopefully spread it like wildfire. Perhaps, through the small notion of uniting ourselves to a greater source, we can expand peace from those moment to moment instances between poses and into moment to moment instances when, on a larger scale, shit hits the fan in our outer world. A little peace could become the difference between moving from anger and fear or moving from love and calm. Finding possibility versus contracting and closing off.
Let's hold our warriors with strength but also with a slow and steady breath, so we have time to process our thoughts and not make the poses cluttered with them. Let's attempt our arm balances with courage but also calm so we don't freak ourselves out before the pose has a chance to manifest. Peace is space. It's a quiet, accepting, loving, and open space. We will look to practice exploring that and hopefully we can carry some of it with us as we step back out into reality.
But remember, even if we leave the yoga studio and can't seem to reconnect to any of this or just feel thrown back into the whirlwind- like Arjuna said, "at least there's yoga". And that, in essence, is why this is a practice. We use the practice space to do just that and over time cultivate and breed and grow the peace we hope to carry with us.
| breathe peace |
one form of pranayama, or breath work, that I love when incorporated into meditation or asana (physical practice) is the practice of holding the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale
It's incredibly easy to practice no matter where you are and can really draw an awareness to the physical essence of peace just by slowing down the processes of the mind and heart. With that said, as accessible as this practice is it can also be a challenge to manifest that pause and maintain it. Take it as slow as you need to, be patient. It's just breathing ;)
- begin by breathing deeply in and out through your nose
- try to even out your in-breaths and out-breaths until they feel like the same length and depth (it can even help to count on the way in and count on the way out until they match in number)
- now, breathe in your fullest inhale and pause at the top of that breath for a full count
- exhale your fullest breath out following that pause and at the very bottom of that exhale pause again
- continue breathing in balance with a literal pause, no sipping or releasing of air, at the bottom and top of each inhale and exhale until that becomes a graceful process and continue as long as you like
- you can use this as your tool to meditate and/or add this to your asana, maybe practicing it while holding a pose that challenges you for a longer period of time