Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. This simple phrase is regularly uttered or chanted during yoga practices because it is an invitation of peace. It is a request that yogis, people who practice yoga, will find it possible to engage with Yoga Sutra 1.2 during practice, and beyond. The Yoga Sutras are a series of guidelines for living, you know like: be kind to others, and written by the sage Patanjali who also introduced us to the Ashtanga, the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Yoga Sutra 1.2 specifically reads yoga-chitta-vrtti-nirodhah, which has been directly translated by many Sanskrit, the language of yoga, scholars. I am by no stretch (pun intended) of the imagination a Sanskrit expert, but after reading a few of the direct translations by the experts, and through my yoga studies with some long-standing and well respected yoga teachers in my home state of Minnesota, I’ve come to understand this particular Sutra to mean the ability of oneself to clear the uncertainty of the mind, and live in a space of peace of body, mind and emotion.
For many of us that seems like a nearly insurmountable goal, and why would anyone create a goal for themselves that cannot be attained? I mean failing doesn’t feel good to anyone. But, if we look at the concept, the idea, that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes, maybe peace isn’t all that unavailable to us after all? For instance, if we try for peace, and instead get caught up in emotional stress and react in anger or fear instead of reacting peacefully, but we sit and reflect about why we were truly stressed out in the first place, then we can learn to break the pattern of anger and fear and next time do better. Isn’t that what second chances are all about, anyway?
Yoga is the practice of second, third and 1-millionth chances. When we practice, whether in a studio or on or off our mats, we get to try again and again and again. Much like falling out of a yoga pose, when we get back up and try again, we’ve learned and adapted our way of practicing the pose to be better at it the next time. We can do the same with our practice of peace, remembering that there is always more than one truth available because we all come from different perspectives and experiences. This Thursday marks the 36th year of International Peace Day, and the United Nations has plenty of suggestions about ways to celebrate, check out their website http://internationaldayofpeace.org/get-involved/ and decide how you’d like to get involved, because if we’re peaceful on the inside then we’re more likely to be peaceful toward others on the outside, too. Feel free to let us know how you choose to be peaceful through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram; we’d love to share the peace with you!