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A Conversation with Peter Schieffelin Nyberg on how Yoga and Meditation Heals the Mind

Living an active lifestyle and taking steps to bolster your mental health are two of the best methods we know of to dramatically improve your overall wellbeing. For centuries, the West largely ignored yoga and meditation, two popular Eastern practices that are renowned for their ability to enhance one’s mind, body, and soul. That’s no […]

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Living an active lifestyle and taking steps to bolster your mental health are two of the best methods we know of to dramatically improve your overall wellbeing.

For centuries, the West largely ignored yoga and meditation, two popular Eastern practices that are renowned for their ability to enhance one’s mind, body, and soul. That’s no longer the case, as these practices are achieving mainstream awareness and adoption among health-conscious Westerners.

Peter Schieffelin Nyberg, the Chief Financial Officer at Camino Community Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one such convert to both meditation and yoga.

In the following interview, we ask Peter Nyberg about his journey into these practices, how he prepares for sessions, and most importantly, what his favorite yoga position is.

Meditation and yoga are big parts of your life now and we’d love to hear how that came to be. Let’s start with meditation; how did you get started?

Like many individuals, I found myself dealing with a lot of stress as I rushed through life trying to accomplish all of the goals I had set for myself. My blood pressure was high, and I was frequently getting bad headaches. It was my doctor who recommended I begin meditating and the results have been incredible. My blood pressure is in a great range, I rarely get headaches now, and I just feel a lot calmer throughout the day.

There are many different forms of meditation. Which type do you prefer and why?

I have tried a few different styles and regularly practice a couple. One is breath awareness meditation, which I find is a great way to keep me focused when my mind is scattered. When I can handle it, I will do mindfulness meditation and try to empty my mind of thoughts completely and just be.

Any special preparations for your meditation sessions? How often do you practice?

It’s important to select a quiet area that’s relatively free from any type of technological distraction. Meditation is a personal experience, so it’s essential to identify which techniques work for you. Apart from locating a silent spot, I will just try to relax for a few minutes before I start and maybe sip on a warm drink. I meditate nearly every day for at least 5 minutes and find even that’s enough to keep me feeling more at ease.

You’ve also taken to Hot Yoga. What was the motivation to get into that?

I used to get much of my exercise from playing tennis, but I injured my shoulder a few years ago and had to take a break. I was doing some yoga classes at the Camino Community Center but was looking for something a little more up-tempo and more demanding cardio-wise. A fellow yogi from the Center told me about hot yoga and it was a perfect fit. I already knew many of the poses and the different format was a game changer for me. Every session brings new challenges and there’s many times I want to just roll over and collapse. When that 45 minutes is up though and you’ve made it through another session, it’s a great feeling and you know that you’ve done a good thing for your body even if it doesn’t feel like it in that moment.

Would you recommend others make the switch to hot yoga?

It’s probably not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who’s interested in yoga and can handle the demands of that hot and humid environment for 45 minutes. I do still enjoy regular yoga as well, it’s great for working on my breathing and being a little more mindful of my body and how I’m feeling.

How do you get over the hump on days you just don’t want to meditate or do yoga?

I genuinely enjoy both activities, so that helps a lot with my motivation, but even then, there are times when I need a break or might be dreading a hot yoga session. I know that getting started is usually the hardest part and that once I’m into it, I’ll be glad I did, so remembering that can help me put those voices in my head aside. Overall, I would recommend establishing a weekly routine, because at the end of the day consistency is key.

Thanks to Peter Nyberg for sharing his thoughts with us on these two important practices and helping to spread their gospel through his work at the Camino Community Center.

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