I would not classify myself as a particularly calm or peaceful person, at least not by nature. It tends to be my natural inclination to overdo, get worked up, react emotionally, and to generally get caught up in the mayhem of life. An unattributed quote that I love says:
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.
In New York, we live in a city where it often seems no corner is calm. There is noise everywhere. You have to hustle. Peace? Yes. Peace.
Some time later, I have worked toward this ideal and I finally understand–that peace is possible, if often a work in progress. You must want to be happy, and you must want peace. Just like anything you want, you must act to create it. I have found a number of entrees through my practice of yoga, and I’d like to share one thing that works well for me.
Morning sadhana. Don’t let the fancy Sanskrit word freak you out, sadhana is simply an individual’s own practice that aids them. For me, a morning breathing practice soon after I wake up is incredibly helpful. I used to roll out of bed and get started on the day. It was like launching myself out of a catapult, and approximately as pleasant. Are you launching into your day? Is it serving you?
My Morning Breathing Practice
Alternate nostril breathing is a hugely beneficial part of my morning routine, and it has a number of benefits. It is a balancing breathing technique that helps with both calm and focus.
- Sit cross-legged on the floor. Have your hips elevated slightly above your knees on a yoga block, couch cushion or pillow. (If this seat is not accessible for you, find one that is!)
- Start by observing your own breath. Notice whether it is shallow or deep, where you feel it in you body, what is going on for you. Close your eyes and allow your breathing to deepen.
- When you are ready, raise your right hand. Rest your index and middle fingers on the space between your eyebrows.
- Using your thumb, close off your right nostril. Exhale through your left.
- Inhale through your left. Close off both nostrils. Release your right nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.
- Inhale through your right nostril. Close off both nostrils. Release your left nostril. This is one cycle.
Continue using the same technique for three to ten minutes. When you have finished, continue to sit still and observe yourself. Do you feel different? Go about your day from a place of peace.
If something else makes you feel more comfortable, do that by all means. Maybe what works for you is to take a walk around your block before you get ready. Maybe simply putting off opening your laptop or checking email on your phone for five minutes of stillness is more your style. In this city, with so many demands on our time, it takes a little discipline and conscious planning to carve out time to truly care for ourselves. To start your day in peace builds the foundation for more peace. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Post authored by Laura Baron