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A yogi's guide to cultivating inner peace, even in the most stressful times

16 April 2020 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto
Our regular everyday lives are stressful enough, never mind this "new normal" we're all struggling to cope with. Whether you're trying to work from home, grappling with new financial circumstances, helping your child with their online learning, or navigating countless other changes COVID-19 has thrown our way, finding inner peace probably sounds pretty nice right about now — and pretty far out of reach. Jennifer Hogan, one of our resident yoga experts, says that lovely-sounding peace is already in all of us; we just need to tap into it. Here are the top four ways she says you should get started, all from the comfort and safety of your home.

I believe anyone can attain inner peace, but it’s not a one-off goal. You can’t accomplish it and then check it off the list. It's an ongoing practice that we're continuously working towards. Yoga, meditation, and mindful movement can help you find and maintain yours.

1. Finding balance

Two women stretching in a lunge

Yoga is all about balance. In classes like the ones we're offering on Facebook live, you’ll find plenty of movements that balance out your body: forward and backward postures, seated and standing postures, expanding and contracting your lungs, and more. In much the same way, yoga helps bring balance to our minds. Bringing your focus inward and finding physical equilibrium helps our mind start to search for a similar ebb and flow. Consistent yoga practice can make that peaceful feeling last, even when you’re off the mat.

2. Acceptance and awareness

Yoga can be very humbling. One philosophy behind this ancient practice is that you should begin where you are. You become aware of your limitations and agree to work within your capabilities. Honest acceptance of where you are today helps wash away those nagging feelings of guilt or inadequacy. How peaceful does that sound?

3. Compassion and empathy

All of that acceptance is part of self-love. As you become kinder to yourself, you’ll find it easier to turn that kindness outward and empathize with others. You'll start to recognize that everyone has their struggles, just like you. This ability to see yourself in others helps you interact more peacefully with them. It doesn't mean you’ll never feel frustrated again, but maybe it will happen less often and without the accompanying anger and stress.

4. Becoming present

Group of people sitting and meditating

When you practice yoga, you learn how to slow down and experience life in the present. Most worries are based on memories of the past, or (perhaps especially these days) thoughts of the future. If you can bring yourself back to the present, you can get rid of these “what if?” ideas that weigh you down. Life isn't going to be perfect, and we're all dealing with a lot of uncertainty about what our future holds right now, but living in the present is much more peaceful than ruminating on the past or constantly wondering about the future.

During this stressful time, do your best to carve out a few moments to cultivate inner peace in your life. Check out some of the soothing yoga classes we're streaming live on Facebook, from our homes to yours.


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