Creating daily rituals that support a balanced lifestyle is essential to maintaining peace for me. I immediately notice a difference if I do not take time for my spiritual practice. One thing that always helps me is to remember that as little as five minutes a day can make a difference. Since I travel a lot for my work teaching yoga workshops all over the world, sometimes I simply do not have the time in my day for a full yoga practice due to flight connections and intercontinental travel. On these days, I carve out as little as five minutes to do my meditation practice. While it is easy to get frustrated about not having enough time to properly practice, even these short minutes help the mind regain a sense of equilibrium. Many people think they have to do either a full practice or nothing at all, but this type of all-or-nothing thinking sets up the possibility for failure more often than success. If you instead take an honest look at what is logistically possible based on your schedule and do the best you can with the time you have, that is a great way to practice acceptance and give yourself peace of mind.
Regulating the flow of energy throughout the day helps me stay focused and engaged with the tasks at hand. Running a yoga center in addition to my own heavy traveling and teaching schedule usually means that when I am in Miami, I have a jam-packed schedule with many meetings. If I have many meetings scheduled in one day, I also schedule time for small recovery breaks where I go for a walk around the block, get a juice or a chai, and essentially let my mind float freely on something other than my busy day. One of the benefits of living in Miami is being so close to the ocean. At the end of a long day of work, my favorite thing to do is go and see the ocean around sunset time. I live within walking distance of the shore, so my evening ritual involves turning off my computer and email, plugging in my headphones and listening to music that I find relaxing or fun. When I get to the beach I always take the headphones out and turn off the music so that I can hear the sound of the ocean waves. No matter how tough the day may have been, the beauty of the ocean never changes. Regardless of whether it is sunny, cloudy, windy, rainy or anything in between connecting into the purity and sheer power of the ocean brings me back to a sense of what is real.
The body's state of health determines a large degree of the emotional feeling that we have. When the body is healthy, strong and flexible, we have energy to devote to our lives. In addition to practicing Ashtanga Yoga six days a week, I also eat a balanced vegetarian diet. I bring snacks with me when I travel and have a protein bar handy for emergencies where I cannot find any good quality vegetarian food. Hydration plays a big role in the body's state of health, so the first thing I do each morning is drink a glass or two of water. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning ensures that my body is hydrated throughout my yoga practice and has enough water to flush the system clean after the night's rest.
Stress comes from many sources, and each person will have different triggers for stress. I am an only child and grew up used to solitude, so spending time with many people and talking too much throughout the day often drains me. In order for me to feel balanced and centered, I need precious moments totally alone throughout the day, preferably in total silence. If I have house guests or there is work being done at my house, I find these silent moments in small doses of luxury like a manicure/pedicure, massage, facial or walk on the beach. Each person has to find their inner sanctuary and touch it every day. Some people will find their quiet garden of inner calm in gardening, reading, drawing, dancing, writing or meditating. By reaching into the inner world I open a channel to my higher self and I often receive important life guidance from my inner voice. These messages from the depths of my psyche only surface when the waters are calm on the ocean of the mind.