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How I Find My Calm: A Barista

As a barista at a café, Chantal Pettegrew’s workday begins at 5:30 a.m.For the next eight hours, she will brew, froth, pour, and do a lot of chatting with customers. Pettegrew loves the upbeat pace and especially meeting new people day in and day out. Things can get hectic behind the espresso bar though. “Maybe one barista is on break; I’ll be trying to have three different conversations with people while working on three different drinks; then the phone starts ringing, people are asking questions, and I have tasks I should do in the back of my mind,” she says. “That’s when it gets stressful.”

"I take a deep, steadying breath."

Through her yoga practice, Pettegrew has gained an invaluable tool to help her find her calm in tense moments like these when you can’t step away: breath. “I take a deep, steadying breath. It’s one long breath to clear my head and refocus. I slowly fill my lungs and let it out just as slowly. It’s a really small thing, but it helps a lot.”

Breath is very grounding. It brings you into the present moment and makes you focus on what’s happening in your body, she explains. When she’s in between rushes, Pettegrew will often return to her breath. “I will breathe in through my nose and fill my lungs first, then my belly. Next, I will slowly empty it through my mouth, first from the belly and then the lungs. I notice that I’m no longer shaky, my hands and shoulders aren’t as tense, and my thoughts are more positive. I’m much more calm.”