A Simple Recipe for Inner Peace
by Keri Shee, RYT-200, OTR
Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
Lately I’ve been intentionally centering many of my yin yoga classes around the breath, as winter can cause contraction, freezing up or becoming stuck. In the winter there is a natural calling to move inward, an invitation to slow down, let go of anything that is not essential and drop into stillness. However, in our culture, slowing down can be quite a challenge what with all of the items on our to-do lists, our jobs, children, homes…the list goes on. When our nervous systems are bombarded with heightened activity during a season when there is a need for more silence, we often feel depleted and overwhelmed. We see the effects in our breath, at times losing connection, holding or even forgetting to breathe.
Finding moments in our days to draw awareness to the breath, find ground, and calm our body, mind and spirit increases our capacity to fully show-up for our lives. It is the breath that continues to move through us, maintaining our vitality and connection to the pulse of life. So how can we find quiet time in a world that asks us to engage time and time again?
Here are some small practices of self-care that will reconnect us with the breath and carry us through the rest of winter and into the spring feeling inspired and ready to manifest new ideas.
- Sit in meditation for five minutes and simply draw awareness to the breath, the rise of the inhale and the fall of the exhale. Follow ten breaths from bottom to top, top to bottom.
• Take a warm bath with a drop of doTerra oil blends and/or bath salts, light a candle, and put on some calming music.
• Get out in nature for a slow walk through the neighborhood or along a trail, and breathe in the crisp air.
• Take three deep and full breaths with the eyes closed and feet planted on the floor or earth.
• Take a moment to stop and look around. Find one thing in the environment that brings in a sense of calm and equanimity, and breathe in gratitude for it.
• Say “no” and don’t feel guilty about it. There will always be another opportunity to socialize.
• Learn a mantra or short chant and sing it throughout the day. Om Namah Shivaya is a great one for the winter, as it honors the importance of the space between an ending and a new beginning.
• Take a yin, yin/yang or gentle vinyasa class at Shri or honor your own rhythm in more challenging classes, and take child’s pose in place of downward dog.
• Ask a teacher for a breath practice to use at home, in the car or during transition. There are many ways we can manipulate the breath to reach desired energetic outcomes. For example, breathing in three parts can be very grounding and soothing to the nervous system. Inhale belly, ribs, chest. Exhale chest, ribs, belly. Pause briefly between each breath.
• Commit to a small act of self-care each day, even if it is short. Seek out activities that are quiet and bring inner joy.
As an anchor to the present moment, the breath is truly our path to inner peace and contentment. It is the way we can become unstuck.
The practice of joining with the breath can teach us to stay curious and open, rather than to react upon impulses or shut down when we are feeling discomfort. Rather than existing in our more primal minds, we can awaken to the noticing of our thoughts and patterns and from this wisdom, make gentle shifts in our lives. The breath is ours, and it is a place we can always come home to.
Keri Shee teaches Yin and Sound Healing at Shri Studios Thursdays 1:30-2:30 pm and every third Sunday evening from 6:30-7:45. Come and experience her peace, calm and beautiful voice as she guides you into a deeper experience on your mat.