Around the time of 9-11, I was working as a new reporter. The day that the US war in Afghanistan started, my assignment was to write about a new yoga studio that had opened and the teacher who owned it. The young teacher called herself an advocate of peace but not in atypical sense. There was no criticism of governments or of government officials or of anyone’s foreign policy.
My own Yoga practice was still new, and I was impressionable. Yet, what she said stuck with me as my practice matured and as I later became an experienced yoga teacher. Peace, she said, must start with you.
Finding peace within ourselves and our lives can start on our mats
Much of our yoga instruction comes from ourselves. When we’re alone on our mats in a private place where we can relax and be ourselves without trying, we tend to be able to teach ourselves much of what we need to know. What makes yoga so appealing to people who seek peace in their hearts is that basic poses work for just about everyone. The poses allow us to physically act to change how we feel.
What makes us angry and imbalanced? How does the “war” within us start?
Much of the time, we have enough energy within us and enough positive energy to give us a good outlook on life. Everyday life simply knocks our energy centers out of balance; we can’t take a break when we really need one so we get uptight; the many electronic devices in our world knock our body’s electromagnetic pulse out of balance.
For people who have seen incredible stress, such as soldiers, police, ER nurses and social workers, the situation is the same, just a lot more intense. Yoga is playing a bigger and bigger part in the process of helping people of all professions reduce stress.
No matter what your situation, basic yoga poses work; 5,000 years of knowledge back them up
A simple round of sun salutations will align your spiritual energy centers and help your body balance out the distribution of energy whirling around inside your body. You can do a routine that’s under five minutes, or one that’s 30 minutes.
The sun salutation is the “universal vinyasa”, it is based on 5,000 years of yogic knowledge and is most effective. It includes poses that energize and align your cakras. You can go through the series quickly or slowly, and add mantras to make this ancient routine into your own practice.
Add a few more basics and tweak it for the time of day
It is better to do sun salutations when you’re still in an active part of your day. They will work as well in early evening as in early morning. You’ll want to avoid doing a series of fast salutations just before bed; if you’re doing late-night sun salutations, go slow, and hold each pose longer. Skip poses such as warriors as they will wind you up-warriors are great during the active part of the day.
For late night yoga that will help you sleep, a slow salutation with extra time spent on the forward bends, will do a lot to let you enter a calm, peaceful state. Legs-Up-the-Wall pose (Vaparita Kirani), will do wonders. Half-shoulder stand (Sarvangsana) and plow pose (Halasana) are also excellent poses for restoring the balance of your energy centers (and gently squeeze glands that trigger flushing of toxins) and bringing you peace within.
Yogasync Me! Yoga for ultimate inner peace: