Breathing and Yoga


Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe.
Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course.
Lao Tzu

This is what we are referring to when talking about a breath-centered yoga practice. Often a yoga instructor’s cadence becomes, “inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…” until it becomes ambient sound and our ears habituate as we no longer pay attention. And at any given point you will hear the instruction: “coordinate the movement with the breath.”
Yadi yadi. Yada yada.
It’s plenty easy for your mind to convince you and your body to do a lot of things. The converse is true too– you may convince yourself that you have no control and you are possessed by your body by addiction or greed or whatever other deadly sin you might think up. These two things are true (and not just because I’m trying to promote the concept of non-duality either).

Try this: cat/cow vinyasa
inhale, cow
exhale, cat

Fair enough. Now breathe normally. Let the cow happen as the breath comes. As though the transition is in fact a function of the breathing mechanism. It is.

We are being breathed. The atmospheric pressure outside of the lungs and the pressure within the lungs is what causes the diaphragm to move up and down. Respiration is an autonomic function. You do it while you sleep.

And cat comes because you exhale. Bring your mind into your breath. The song is the breath and your movement is the dance. Freedom within choreography. Moving and breathing in a yoga practice is a celebration of being alive and capable–
bringing your mind into your experience
and being there
with yourself
the whole time
to witness,
to act,
and give thanks
just for that.

Now, try this:cat/cow vinyasa
(do this simultaneously)
exhale = cat
(let the postures and transitions become synonymous with the word “breathe”)

The movement is fluid and the breath is like a river…always flowing…. Sometimes it settles
as in a lake
and the breath suspends
and the mind stops.

If we try to force our bodies to do things without first giving ourselves space to breathe, we will never be able to live in a place of ease and stability. If we fight against the currents around us, we end up defeating ourselves. If we try to hold on to all of our possessions, they will possess us. If we strain, we restrain. If we take shortcuts, we don’t understand where we are.

Practicing restraint in yoga is not about denial, it is about transformation. There is no need to bottle up. To be frozen in our emotion. Become a Master by moving with the energies that nourish you. Support yourself without gripping. Trust yourself. Use self-authority by receiving guidance from all that you are and can be. Pain and pleasure follow the same rules of nature–they each will come and go. Inhale. Exhale. Birth. Death. And the spaces in between. Before and after. Let’s take more time and find more space and live a little now and then.

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