November 26, 2013

Finding Peace On Your Mat. ~ Juli Auriane

Finding peace upon our mats can expand the peace within our daily lives.

It can enhance our relationships, increase the joy and happiness we feel within us and allow us to flow more freely.

As we take our first, fledgling steps onto our mats each day, or even each week or month, we sink our feet deeply into the earth beneath us, grounding ourselves in readiness for our practice.

We breathe. We let go.

We connect to ourselves fully as we find our union—our connection between breath and body, between self and spirit, between our mats and our lives. Finding this union during our asana, pranayama and meditation practices can often carry us through our days of hectically filled schedules and help us to float mindfully through the current of life, rather than struggling upstream as we sometime do.

So how do we achieve this?

1. Yoga is a practice.

When we perceive our yoga practice as a journey with no destination, we can find our way to accepting where we are right now.  Our peaceful state will develop throughout our practice as we practice it. This is not only okay, but it is a beautiful, step-by-step discovery of self, which allows us to appreciate every moment of growth and blooming within us as it occurs.

2. Know your starting point.

Our starting point towards peace is found both within our moments of union and in our acceptance of where we are in each instant. They create a firm foundation and grounding for us to grow into our blossoming practice.

I still remember my starting point from my first-ever yoga class.

I was amazed at what my body could and couldn’t do in that first class – an incredible discovery of self all on its own.  Combining my breath with the flow of poses weaved within me a spell-like, natural place of stillness within my mind: a new breaking of awareness dawning across the horizon of my life.

I flowed between asanas and found stillness within movement – and yet when we came to savasana I broke down and cried. As I lay down for the very first time in this rejuvenating pose, we began to relax our bodies—arm by arm; leg by leg; hands, feet, hips, torso, chest, neck, face, head—relaxing our eyes inward; allowing the skins of our temples to widen; softening our mouths;  even smiling and finally, relaxing completely into the mat beneath us, sinking our whole bodies down and into the earth: I couldn’t do it!

This was an incredibly confronting awareness for me to achieve and accept, that I could absolutely find my peace and union within the flow of an active practice and yet I could not lay still.

It was an important starting point for me to recognise: to help me to find my grounding, sink my feet deeply into the earth and get ready for my real practice to begin.

3. See new perspectives.

Using asana symbolism, we see that within each twisting pose we practice upon our mats, we can squeeze out old, unhelpful patterns and make room for new, helpful ones. With each inverted pose, we can learn to see a new perspective as we flip ourselves upside-down and see a different view-point.

The ability to see different views and perspectives is a helpful communication tool within our daily lives, it can build and bridge relationships and broach pathways to peace.

4. Develop mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a connection to the moment as it is and can be an incredible training tool in acceptance and union—either within the flow of a vinyasa series or the stillness of lotus or savasana.

Following each breath in, through our noses and down the backs of our throats; listening to the waves-like sounds we can create; feeling each movement and asana fully; holding each pose at exactly the point where our breaths still can move fully within us, where we feel most alive: these are all wonderful practices of mindfulness which can lead us to the union within us.

5. Allow for evolution.

As our yoga practices evolve, our union between mind and body deepens, our connection to spirit strengthens, peacefulness expands within us and our enlightened perspective naturally develops further.

From my starting point onwards to my very next class and beyond, I accepted each second I fidgeted within stillness and I began to milk each moment I found myself in union—until it became consistent and flowed from vinyasa into savasanathen from my mat into my life. Acceptance allows for evolution and growth.

6. Let your mat dissolve into your life.

As the peace expands within us upon our mats, so does it expand within our lives and relationships with each other. Just as our peacefulness within our lives expands, so does our vinyasa flow!

When we finally find peace upon our mats – our mats gradually dissolve until we are left with simply peace. My mat and my practice on it led me towards the sense of peace I now feel throughout every day.

As I practiced and developed my peace upon my mat, it gradually became my natural state of being.

Perhaps, peace is already our natural state of being which we sometimes lose throughout our daily lives—and our mats can bring us back to it, as it brings us closer to our union with self.

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Ed: Bronwyn Petry

{Photo Credit: Elephant Digital Archives}

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