I’m sitting in my parked car outside of the studio, fingers curled tightly around my phone, staring at my partner who is trying desperately not to jump out and run from our conversation. Once every three weeks we talk to a therapist via the phone to help us navigate the challenge and opportunity that is US and today, the talk is particularly frustrating. The therapist asks me if I can invite more space into my voice….what she is really saying is that I need to breathe. The quality of my voice is all that she has to go on as far as the subtle subtext of communication and my speech is compressed and shrill. Yes, thats right, 15 years of yoga and I’m still forgetting to breathe.
The first thing you learn in yoga asana and meditation is that the breath is the defining tool of the practice. Why? It is the link between the the conscious choice and the automated functions of our stress response. According to yogic theory it is the bridge between the corporeal and energetic aspects of our being. The breath is also an organizing agent for our structural alignment. If you check in with your breath you will undoubtably readjust your posture to allow for more easeful and fully expressed breathing. That means the spine finds greater alignment and prana flows better.
I remember reading somewhere that when we hold the breath, we hold the soul. In other words, our breath is innately linked to our capacity to connect to our higher self (the aspect of the self that is not as caught in limiting beliefs). When breath flows, our perspective is wide and there is room for conflict and space for resolution.
As a Rolfer, I can tell by watching someone breathe how relaxed or present they are and so, how receptive they will be to the work of structural integration in that moment.
Suffice it to say that the “invitation” from my therapist/teacher to find my breath is a powerful reminder of where I am lacking integration in my yoga practice. If what I do on the mat isn’t translating into my relationships then, Huston, we have a problem!!
Here is my advice to myself as well as any one, new or seasoned to yoga on bringing the breath to the foreground:
PRACTICE AND ALL IS COMING
Patabi Jois famously said this. Now, I don’t mean that you need to do chaturangas 7 days a week at all but daily intentional practice that incorporates conscious breathing is a must. Meditating and breathing exercises as a part of self care can change a lot. Make it a morning practice just after you wake up. Do a few minutes of Pranayama and a short seated meditation. If you have trouble sticking to it…get an accountability buddy. People do that for working out so why not for waking up? Since opening Mission and becoming a Mom, my meditation practice has been spotty at best and I can see the absence of it has had a real effect.
PRACTICE WHEN IN AUTOPILOT
* Its easier to do it in these circumstances than in the most challenging practice of human relationship.
PRACTICE WITH HUMANS
We can not access the love we hold for others or ourselves when our core patterns are in the drivers seat and if you’re human, they usually will be. The breath is the tool always at your disposal that can be the feather that starts a landslide of shift in perspective and communication but we have to be so practiced at tapping in to it that we can remember in these hard times that it is right here…nearest of the near.
DO IT WITH ME NOW…..BOTH FEET ON THE FLOOR, FILL THE LUNGS, BREATHE DOWN AND BACK TO CREATE A MORE BALANCED POSTURE, FEEL THE INVITATION TO CREATE SPACE AND RECLAIM YOUR CENTER……REPEAT.