Often, at the end of a yoga class, my students will continue to sit quietly. They will be still; the air is even still. I will wait a few minutes and ask them how they are doing. “I feel so peaceful,” they will say. There is almost a sense of surprise in their voices as they discover this.
So much of our lives are filled with activity and mental stimulation, we often end up feeling fragmented, our mind racing in different directions. This can translate into our body feeling tense, our patience waning, our energy diminishing – and, what we don’t feel is peaceful.
The purpose of our yoga practice is to move us from this scattered and uncomfortable state to one where the mind is centered, content, and clear. To do this something has to change.
Our yoga practice requires a union or connection of our body, our breath, and our mind. We start by focusing on our breath and taking that focus on our breath into our practice of postures. We inhale on certain movements, exhale on others; we pause between our inhale and exhale; we slow the breath. This requires the mind to focus fully on the breath and movement. There is no room to ruminate on what happened before class or what we must do after. There is only each moment, and our self-awareness of what is happening. We do a breathing practice, we chant shanti, shantih (peace), we rest, we sit and observe the effects of the practice.
The mind has moved. The breath, body, mind are reintegrated. We are in touch with a space deeper, quieter within us – our settled heart. Peace.