Mindful awareness

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finding Peace using the Breath

This is a busy time of year and the frenetic pace doesn’t always feel so peaceful. I’m often overloaded, busy with activities that are added into my already full schedule. It is easy to neglect myself during these busy days, but this is exactly when I need to find time to center and focus. This week I’ve invited yoga students to find peace using their breath.

Moving mindfully with the breath is always soothing and calming. But this week we have been working with prolonged and sustained exhales to accentuate the effect. Longer exhales slow the body and by doing that I always feel more peaceful. Prolonged exhales in sustained forward fold postures like eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), janu sirsasana (head to knee pose), and upavistha konasana (wide-angle seated forward fold pose) are especially effective to find peace within. Even as the muscles around the hips resist the stretch, long exhales help to dissolve the resistance. Prolonging the breath while stretching the hips and hamstring muscles teaches us that we can be still with the resistance, let go of the struggle, and come deeper into the pose. Being patient in the forward fold rewards us with more flexible muscles and a calmer demeanor. It is a lesson that we can use the breath as a tool when we find ourselves resisting insane schedules and communication challenges off the mat. Long exhales help to manage our regular life struggles.

Long exhales help me to embody one of my favorite quotes, “Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” (unknown) Whatever is going on around me, whatever challenges that come my way, my breath is always with me to locate that peaceful state.

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