Many people, especially to the beginners and the unacquainted approach a yoga class with the intention to find calmness and a peace of mind. Though these are some of the direct benefits of practicing yoga asanas, I believe there lies a magic in this practice that draws many to return to it over and over again, sometimes, as I do, 6 times a week in the wee hours of the morning.
In the yoga sutras of Patanjali there is a verse that reads yoga chitta vritti nirodha. Yoga is inhibition of the mental processes (Yoga sutras 1.2)
In its most simplified interpretation Yoga ceases the changing states of the mind – the stilling of all thoughts. And this I believe is the entry point to returning to the core of our inner self. But to achieve this state of calmness in the mind does not mean one has to stop thinking altogether. If in fact, the act of trying to “stop thinking” will almost always necessitate more thoughts to suppress as the mind is impulsive, distracted and always jumping from here to there.
So how does one connect back to oneself? The simplest way to reconnect to the inner self is to link the breath to every movement. There is a constant practice of allowing the breath to lead the movement in my daily yoga practice. I have found the same can be applied to our everyday lives too. When our world is harried with so many expectations and demands from colleagues, bosses and even loved ones, we often forget the inner peace that each of us possess. A trait that we are all born with but often forgotten in the chaos that we call life. We forget to breathe deeply and evenly. Often our breaths become short and shallow which automatically leads to an anxious mind.
Connecting back to our inner self is possible through the simple act of bringing your attention to the present moment. And the easiest way to achieve this is to breathe. When you have 10 urgent matters to attend to and all seems equally as pressing, breathe. Allow the overwhelming sensation to settle and the mind to gently come to a slow, brief pause. Keep breathing. Long, even breath. Bring your awareness to the rise and fall of you chest as you inhale and the exhale. Feel the air against your skin. Or notice the color of the desk in front of you. When you are present in the moment, colors and other sensations appear more vivid. Awareness brings an instantaneous sharpness to your mind and an immediate connection with the inner self.
Stepping away from your desk and walking for a short moment is also ideal. Whether it’s just to the washroom or around the office block. Move. Allow your breath to guide the pace of your steps. The longer and more even your breath, the steadier your pace will be. And soon you will almost certainly begin to feel the mind settling, and following the rhythm of your breath.
If you ever wonder what it feels like to reconnect with your inner self, it is that exact moment that you sometimes get when a novel solution to an issue or a challenge that you have been pondering on for hours or days suddenly come to mind out of nowhere. The inner self resides in the space between complete silence of the mind and creative inspiration. In my own practice, it is the precise moment when I achieve the full expression of an asana with ease, when the necessary muscles are engaged and opposing muscles are relaxed. When there is complete absence of resistance or struggling. At that point, a calm stillness descends.
Getting in touch back with your inner self helps you to tap into the infinite love, wisdom and strength that we are all born with. It also allows you to connect back with the stillness within, a space of peace and calm that does not require a lot of time and money to get back to each time you need it. Only a little effort in placing back the focus to your breath and the present moment. So each time you need to make a difficult decision, or the external world around you appears to be extremely chaotic, breathe, and watch the inner self eventually shine through with exactly what you need at that exact moment in time.