Yoga and peace

To be at peace in the world we must be at peace within ourselves.

Occupy the present

Image by Bryan Helfrich. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

In recognition of Yoga Day U.S.A. on Saturday, January 21, Engaging Peace offers some reflections on yoga as a means for discovering and cultivating inner peace.

The Sanskrit word for peace is “shanti.” Many students of yoga are familiar with the phrase “Om shanti, shanti, shanti” as a blessing for peace.

Another word for shanti is equilibrium, as in mental balance. When we feel at peace, we are in balance, and have a sense of equanimity. It’s easy to forgive others and to let go of our own ego-driven desires when we are in balance.

As athletes, martial artists, and yogis know, to be in balance is to be in a position of strength. Inner peace is not weakness; it is a source of resilient energy.

The practice of yoga promotes contentment, or “santosha.” Would we see so many wars around the world if nations and societies experienced contentment? No, war is fueled by discontent–greed, hunger for power and resources, and fear.

Peace and contentment arise from a willingness to respect others and to live with humility. The greeting and closing used in many yoga classes is “namaste,” which means “I bow to you,” or “I honor the light within you.”

Would war’s acts of violence and inhumanity even be possible if warriors honored the light within their opponents?

Let us all find ways to cultivate peace within ourselves. Yoga is but one path for doing so. Find the path that works for you, and enjoy a life of serenity, balance, and contentment.

Then share your sense of peace with others so that it may grow throughout the world.

Om shanti, shanti, shanti.  Peace, peace, peace.

Pat Daniel, Managing Editor of Engaging Peace and Kripalu Yoga Teacher

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4 Responses to Yoga and peace

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    In his back yard, a neighbor has created something special. It is not a tree house for his grandchildren. It is not a set of swings or a slide or a sandbox. It is a peace symbol. At night it glows, a Plea for Peace, lighting up the Darkness.
    My neighbor’s wife, in the same spirit, ends every e-mail with a peace sign.
    To all who read this, Peace.

  2. Stacey Carbajal says:

    I have to say I have mixed reviews on this article. I think the idea is on the right path while I think the message is guiding people in the wrong direction. I think that peace comes from the Lord my God who desires to give it to all through his love and his word. When reading the article when it said “When we feel at peace, we are in balance, and have a sense of equanimity. It’s easy to forgive others and to let go of our own ego-driven desires when we are in balance.” I can not help but to agree as I am reminded of the scripture in the NIV version of the Holy Bible, Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” This to states that it is not possible for one to love anyone more then he or she loves themselves. The problem arises because people do not know how to love themselves. How does one learn to love themselves but through loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. By doing this people are able to see how much they are loved by God. People often underestimate how valuable they are. society is often fulled by the idea that a persons worth is based on how much a person has done, is doing, and will do. This is a major misconception as our worth is not on these things but on The price God has paid for us. When Jesus Christ died on the cross He paid top dollar, the ultimate price which covers our sins. Nothing is possible without God. One may feel like finding their equilibrium may be the answer but it is actually what may keep them looking for the right answer.

    • kathiemm says:

      Thank you for sharing your views with us, Stacey. Principles like “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” can be found in all the great religions, which certainly all share the message of the importance of brotherly love, and the importance of being able to love oneself.

  3. Sunanda Sharma says:

    “Peace and contentment arise from a willingness to respect others and to live with humility.” This is a statement that those from any background or those who practice any religion should readily agree upon. The problem is that in theory this is easy to accept, but in reality it is hard to practice. I agree with Mr. Daniel that is imperative for all people to find a path of peace that suits his or her and then follow it. I think so many issues that prevent peace from happening stem from internalizing behaviors of violence and aggression that we see out in the world, or which may be promulgated from our own country.

    Many children and victims of maltreatment or abuse run the risk of being abusive or exhibiting violent behavior as they age and these negative experiences only contribute to the overall struggle of getting at peace (Hines & Malley-Morrison 48,74). We need to help victims of abuse by providing adequate services and we need to encourage those who have not reported abuse, but suffered silently, to come forward and heal. From there, we must encourage peace education, develop programs and services, which can reach different cultural communities and then address our country as a whole. Our country must recognize international statutes which protect different groups of people and which prohibit certain reprehensible practices.

    Before all of that, we need to practice kindness, compassion, and understanding to people in communities so we can ensure that we are practicing what we preach.

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