Hi all! Today I have guest blogger, Maggie Hayes, sharing her thoughts on inner peace and how yoga has helped her find it. I am such a fan of Maggie’s instagram account as she inspires all of us yogi’s in SO MANY WAYS. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did! xx Erica
I think we can all agree that everyone, ultimately, wants to feel happiness and at peace with life. Yes? Yes.
But the true meaning of peace can get misconstrued in a world that demands perfection. We were taught to get good grades in school, go to a good college, get a high-paying job, get married and live happily ever after. Easy, right? If you’re like me – then the answer is NO, and the pressure to accomplish all of these things is a heavy weight.
And in the middle of all of these accomplishments we are supposed to be checking off, you yearn for a quiet space, a relaxing day, or pleasant people around you at all times. This, I think, society tends to consider feeling “at peace.” But, the truth is, this world won’t give that to you. So how then do we feel peace? The secret, I have learned, is to define it on your own terms and create it yourself.
I learned this through the practice of yoga. Yoga goes far beyond asana (the physical postures), and instead forces you to take a deep look inside, and balance your mind with your body. Through a daily practice, we discover that if we can hold a pose, and focus our gaze, we can steady the breath, which leads to steadying the mind. These lessons resonate, whether you realize it or not, and translate into life off of the mat.
When I moved to New York City over five years ago, I, like many, was drawn in by the bright lights and promise of success. New York City isn’t exactly the most relaxing place on the planet. It’s quick, it’s exciting, and it demands your very best performance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During my early years in the city, I was, frankly, a crazy party girl, living for the weekends, and voluntarily detached from reality. I would work hard all week, go out all weekend, drink, black out, and hate myself by Sunday night – rinse and repeat. But I kept at it because I told myself that this was what everyone was doing.
It took some time before I finally stopped and said, yeah, everyone’s doing it, but is this something that I want to keep doing? I was lethargic, lacked confidence and felt awful about who I was. I had a pretty killer social life… But was that enough? I never felt at peace with my life.
I started practicing yoga for superficial reasons, to be honest. But instead, I found the answers that I had been searching for. It took me a very long time to realize that the freedom I needed was right inside me all along – it didn’t matter where I was. I learned that my world outside is merely a reflection of my world inside. The connection between mind and body became more and more undeniable the more I practiced.
Have you ever been in a backbend, or any other pose, and felt your physical body screaming to get out? Your eyes dart all over the place, your breath gets choppy and eventually you drop to your mat. Try focusing your gaze on one point and consciously work on keeping your breath steady – these physical adjustments translate to feeling mental and emotional peace, and before you know it you’re in a backbend and could hang out there all day (maybe not all day, but you know). You find that each pose truly has its emotional counterpart somewhere in the body.
Learning these lessons through yoga helped me see that it’s not about what everyone else is doing, or what everyone expects from you. It’s about YOU. This is your life, so why live it on someone else’s terms?
When I wasn’t being true to myself, the world was chaos and I was just trying to keep up. But when I took a second and slowed down, the world became a beautiful place.
We make our lives complicated, but the truth is simple. Find your truth and hold on tight. I think deep down, we all know our truth, but the fear of stepping out on society might stop us from embracing it. But once you see there is nothing to be afraid of, you can find true, genuine peace.
Maggie is a Brooklyn-based yogi, RYT 200-hour certified and has been practicing for over 5 years. She works in communications in New York City and teaches yoga part-time. Balancing a fast-paced career with her personal life, yoga serves as a metronome; a steady, rhythmic pulse that centers her mind, body and soul in an all too busy world. Maggie is steadfast in her commitment to daily practice, being both a student and a teacher, and sharing her passion with others. SAY HI and connect on Instagram, @maghayes.