Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

When you study yoga, many think that we spend all our time on the poses—understanding alignment and proper sequencing. But in the true yoga tradition, and the training I received, a significant portion focuses on the yoga philosophy. The philosophy of yoga is often quoted through a collection of Sutras which were orally handed down thousands of years ago and today are offered through various translations. They are the back bone for the practice—both on and off the mat.

Similarly, runners who train for a big event do not just pound the pavement to learn how to put one foot in front of the other. They learn how to feed the body for the long miles, what workouts compliment their running, and how to overcome mental anxiety during a race. A marathon can be a grueling race, especially after what some coin as “The Wall” that place somewhere around mile twenty when your body starts to give out. In two of the marathons I ran, I hit this wall—once in New York when I was certain that my hip had a vice gripped upon it and once in Chicago when I knew I was not going to make my Boston Marathon cut off and was beating myself up terribly. But in both cases I did finish by employing a tactic learned both in training for running and for living a yogic life. It comes from the yoga Sutra which translated from its original language meaning: When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of.

Last evening my teacher Heather had us end our yoga class with a breath practice and to close out this practice she asked us to repeat the words—Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, the Sanskrit word for peace. On Patriots Day, a day all runners celebrate as the crowning race for running, our excitement for friends or our impressiveness of runners who speed through a 26.2 mile course was disturbed. Opposite thoughts had taken over. We were all disturbed—stunned, saddened, angry. But we can not stay there. To stay there is only greater defeat. We must cultivate the opposite, we must cultivate peace.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

1 comment

  1. Amy says:

    I needed these words today, thank you!

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