By Shauna Hylenski
When we step onto our yoga mat what are we seeking? Something internal or external or a
mixture of both. One thing that is often a byproduct of a regular practice is balance and
perspective. Do you notice that after yoga your reactions to challenges or stresses are
different? This is a result of the perfect mixture of physical movement, breath, attention and
bringing all your states of being into balance. Within this state we can understand that feelings
of blame, praise, failures, successes, fame, disrepute, pleasure and pain all take us away from
equanimity and away from our natural state of freedom.
Equanimity is defined as a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by
experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the
balance of their mind. Another eastern based definition of equanimity is “to look over.” Being able to
“look over” without getting caught up in the ups and downs of life creates a sense of ease, peace
Regulation of our breath helps to promote our parasympathetic nervous response of rest and
digest, tend and befriend. Tuning into our bodies while in this state gives a frame of reference
for when things are not quite as peaceful and calm. You can feel how your breath is full and
body is at ease which guides you naturally to the state of equanimity. While on our yoga mats,
we can start to feel this evenness of mind. The more we practice the longer the evenness can
When you start to feel your even mind falter and the strong feelings either positive or negative
take hold, try the following exercises as a way to embrace equanimity in the moment.
mantra” Speaking in the third person to guide you back to calm can be an effective tool
to coaching yourself back to an even mind and attitude.
2. Physical activity can help stop the build up of cortisol in your system when your nervous
system ignites its fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. Take a
walk, a jog or ride your bike anything that brings you some movement and joy in
moments of challenge.
3. Meditation can begin to rewire our brains, especially the loving kindness meditation.
This practice guides you to send loving and compassionate thoughts to everyone from
friends and family, strangers who are suffering and towards yourself.
to call it back, flip on our equanimity switch when we need it most. We notice we can more easily “look over” the interactions or environments that at one time threw us off kilter and instead find an evenness of body and mind. If you practice regularly you will find you drop into this state with ease and less effort.