If you have been practicing for a while now, you may have noticed that yoga is starting to permeate your lifestyle. Let’s face it: the time commitment alone is worthy of note, but ultimately it’s the manner in which you apply your practice to your life off the mat that carves out the path of a yogi.
There are finely spun threads of truth that are interwoven in an asana practice, especially when you're lucky enough to have a truly gifted teacher. Often, the truth comes to you in the silence between verbal cues. An intuitive moment flashes and the clouds part ever so slightly to allow the light to shine through. Even the most vigorous practices hold space for nurturing and supportive concepts in disguise. And these glimpses lend themselves to interpretation, because the path of yoga is yours alone. And because, ultimately, you are your best teacher. Your practice will show you the door, but it is you who walks through it. We’re talking empowerment. Big time.
Often, the truth comes to you in the silence between verbal cues. An intuitive moment flashes and the clouds part ever so slightly to allow the light to shine through.
There's an artful turn of a phrase that I've found to be a true game-changer: “Don’t let anyone steal your peace.” We’ve all been there. You’re on your mat, getting after your peace, and then:
Jeez, that person is breathing so loudly. Do they know how loud they’re breathing? It’s so distracting! And they’re way too close to my mat. I know it’s a packed class, but why did they have to roll out their mat right next to me? And the teacher totally just held us too long in arda chandrasana. That’s why I fell out. Ugh! I was looking forward to having a great practice today, but all these things are so beyond my control. It's just impossible!
And it’s official: you’re having a bad class. You’re getting sucked into the trappings of set and setting, gearing up to assign blame as to why it’s all going downhill. And we have all been there, most certainly. But the concept “Don’t let anyone steal your peace” lives in the eye of the storm, with chaos swirling around in every which way. Your peace—your stillness, your infinite self—lives within you, even in those moments where peace seems impossible.
The true yogi isn’t the person who can twist and contort their body into crazy advanced postures or hold the perfect handstand for what feels like forever. The true yogi is the person who can access their peace and be present in the face of any kind of adversity. Tapping into stillness as you practice enables you to defy feelings of frustration when you fall out of svarga dvidasana (bird of paradise), even as your ego shouts, “Why are you not better at this yet?!” It gives you the ability to say, “Pipe down, ego. I’m calling the shots now!”
The true yogi is the person who can access his peace and be present in the face of any kind of adversity.
Your stillness is your magic carpet, capable of transporting you away from your neighbor (who maybe is a little too close to you during side angle pose). Where does that peace reside? In the space between what’s happening around you and the stories you tell yourself about what that means—for you or, even worse, about you. There is a brilliant sliver of space that lives between the two, because, to be honest, the majority of what we think and feel on our mats is very real, but nottrue. So why invest in it?
Carving out an awareness of this concept is the very first step in embracing a lesson that can utterly transform your life. Where you would once react aggressively, you might find yourself stepping inside for a brief, flickering moment and witnessing how you're feeling. The beauty is that even glimpses and moments can have a tremendously positive effect on not only you, but those around you. You might begin to notice choices where you once saw dead ends, options in a situation where you once felt powerless. The subtle themes of a yoga practice are yours to utilize if you choose to. In the end, karma is all about choice. Today, I choose peace. What will your choice be?
Om shanti shanti shanti.