Unshakeable Serenity

The second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali begins with a description of kriyayoga, the three tiered “yoga of action.” Kriyayogais comprised of intense, unwavering practice, self-study and deep reflection, and surrender to the divine. In his commentary B.K.S. Iyengar writes: “By following the precept of kriyayoga, all aspirants may learn to live in unshakeable serenity regardless of circumstances.”

I recall reading these words for the first time, and being struck so forcefully by their power. I knew immediately that “unshakeable serenity” was something I had never experienced. But here a great yoga master was telling me that inner peace was possible, and that there was a path to attain it. We must work with commitment, whether in our yoga practice or in our everyday lives. We must then reflect on what we have done so we can learn from it. And then we must let go.

Like many of us, whatever serenity I have developed has been shaken by the enormity of the challenge we now face. Whatever difficulties we may be encountering, our yogic practices are more important than ever to carry us through these tumultuous times.

A few weeks ago, I was teaching my classes one of the definitions of yoga from the Bhagavad Gita, and this definition also touches on our ability to stay calm in all conditions. Verse II:48 says that “Yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” This state of equanimity can be experienced only when we learn to relate to the infinite being within, rather than to constantly changing circumstances. Circumstances are changing fast right now, so this is a tall order.

I am trying to start with simple things. A daily walk outside feels essential right now. While on the walk, I try to see the shapes, perceive the sounds, and give myself over to the beauty of nature. In my yoga practice each day, I aspire to be fully in the yoga. As I immerse myself in the body, breath and mind, I allow myself to put other concerns at bay.

I am working hard on learning the technology that will allow me to support your yoga practice, and for you to support Green Tara Yoga should you be so moved. You can check the Green Tara Yoga Homepage to find support materials as we develop them, and also to learn how you can support us.

Learning new technology tools is proving to be a steep learning curve. As I practiced this morning, I realized that to calm my nerves, I needed to do head supported forward extensions. Practicing Downward Facing Dog with my head on a block, I felt better within just a few minutes, and I had an insight. I realized that every moment in which I remain calm contributes to the collective calm. By making the effort to remain centered and peaceful, I help both myself and others. I can dedicate each moment of serenity to the benefit of all beings, one breath at a time.

Another strategy that is helping my serenity is to recognize that we are all together in this situation, and that many people may be facing much tougher situations than I am. I have been chanting the Traditional Prayer for All Beings. This prayer is chanted for the welfare of humanity as a whole. If you would like, please join me in this practice, expressing our wishes for the health and well being of everyone on our planet.

May this prayer and all our positive thoughts, words and actions be of benefit to all.



May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free from illness.
May all beings see and experience that which is spiritually uplifting.
May no one suffer.
OM peace peace peace

Audio File of Karen Chanting the Prayer for All Beings

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8 Responses to Unshakeable Serenity

  1. Janet Cox says:

    I so needed this message and prayer right now — thank you, Karen! Never did the wisdom and guidance of B.K.S. Iyengar feel more essential. I am grateful to him, you and our entire Green Tara community.

  2. Julie Tamarkin says:

    Thank you for this beautiful, soothing and insightful message, Karen!
    I send my prayers for the wellbeing of our Yoga community,
    and I am sending you love and gratitude.

  3. Thanks so much, Janet. I think prayer and serenity are just so important at this time. Hearing from you is so nice!

  4. Thank you, Julie. I feel your love and support and am so grateful for it.

  5. Bess says:

    Thank you for this, Karen.

  6. Bruria Kaufman says:

    Thank you !
    Your voice is so calming .
    And your words so inspire.
    Miss your class .

  7. Jan Nelson says:

    Karen, thank you so much for sharing these insights. I’m deeply grateful to have you as my teacher and for your efforts in tirelessly sharing the work of Mr. Iyengar and the beautiful science of yoga. It’s especially in times like these that I am glad to have this practice to turn to for comfort.

  8. Love this message and seeing the chant in print and audio format. Loving being back in class with you. Namaste.

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