By Faye Martins
We live in a chaotic world, and we blame everything from technology to our jobs and families for the stress we feel. The truth is that we decide how we will react to any given situation, and the path we choose determines the outcome. The Dalai Lama said it this way: "Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace."
While it is comforting to know we can control our feelings, the process is not a simple one. Creating inner peace is an ongoing process, much like forgiveness. It is something we do again and again. We can, however, learn to do it more easily, and Yoga can help us.
Although the practice has been around for thousands of years, Patanjali first described the eight-limbed path of classical Yoga in his "Yoga Sutras" around the 1st or 2nd century A.D. His writing outlined a path that included morals, ethics, poses, breath control, self-reflection, concentration, meditation, and bliss.
Today, these principles remain an important part of many styles of Yoga. While its practice is less comprehensive in the modern world, Yogic concepts still hold the key to finding inner peace. Around the world, Yoga schools encourage clean living as a complement to physical exercise. Emphasis, however, usually rests on three limbs - asanas, pranayma, and meditation.
· Asana is the Sanskrit word for “posture.” Patanjali says we should hold poses without exceeding out physical limitations and with the intention of deepening our experience. Poses work well with the breath to prepare us for meditation. Some practitioners get sidetracked into thinking that asana alone is Yoga, but it is only one of eight critical pieces.
· Pranayama, the Sanskrit word for “controlled breathing,” allows us to regulate our inhalations and exhalations in order to take vital life energy, or prana, into the body. Most breathing exercises can be easily learned. Pranayama can literally change your life, but its value is often underrated.
· Meditation usually comes at the end of a Yoga training session, but it can be practiced anywhere at any time. Meditation makes us aware of our minds, bodies, and world around us. It also helps us to connect to something larger than ourselves. Meditation is more difficult than it appears to an outsider and it takes time to master the mind.
Although any of these techniques can help us in the search for inner peace, they are most effective when used together as part of a consistent practice of Yogic methods.
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