All life requires air to survive. It is the essential force that creates our very existence and yet it goes unnoticed until we find we cannot breathe. You know that feeling when the breath becomes faster and feels tighter and each inhalation seems not to satisfy the body’s needs. You feel light-headed and weak and begin to wonder if you will ever feel better again. Then somehow either through external intervention or your own ability to regain control of the breath things start to return to equilibrium and your breath settles back into its normal rhythm. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could stay tuned into our breath…to receive the messages from the body about its state by checking in with that incredible force?? Of course you can begin this process by practising yoga and exploring the different breathing techniques taught in yoga classes.
Being aware of the breath gives you the perfect opportunity to be present. To truly experience that which we call life.
The practice of combining an awareness of breath with movement is what makes yoga quite different to exercises at the gym. As you move through poses there is conscious inhalation and exhalation with the exhalation used to soften and relax the muscles…allowing lengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles.
By tuning into the breath you become more aware of the effect of the stretching and strengthening practices on the body. You are able to fine tune and explore the pose. Each breath you take gives you a perfect snapshot of that moment. For on your mat there is no past, no future there is just the present. The mind can jump about in its usual fashion but by allowing thought to come and go and focusing just on the breath …that is how yoga asana can become your meditation practice. You become absorbed in the present moment. …not rushing to move to the next pose.
Patanjali tells us that asana is one of the early steps in the yogic journey because it requires discipline and a preparedness to explore the present. The only instruction that he offers us is “sthira sukham asanam”, that the posture should be steady and comfortable. You may come to your yoga class for many reasons but if you leave with a sense of peace ..a realisation that life is not all about doing …then that class has done its job and you will return because nothing beats that feeling of being “in the moment”..or as I like to think of it “with the breath”.
Let the breath become your friend, your teacher. Be open ..be steady, be comfortable in your yoga practice and life.