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.
“The Peace of Wild Things”
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Mantra of Wild and Authentic Nature:
Welcome to Spring time energy! This is the real New Year for me as I shake out the winter aches and tap into the rising sap of creative life force. Spring is a powerful and sometimes violent time of year. Life is explosive! Here are some thoughts on ways we can navigate the shift.
The Meridian pair for this time of year is the Liver/Gallbladder in the Chinese Medicine system.
Liver is associated with the Wood Element (Think about the stability and flexibility of a rooted tree filed with sap that can yield and respond with fluidity to outside pressure).
The Liver is called the general of the army and it governs detoxification…if the chi is imbalanced we will see a lot of frustration and anger and equally if we are marinating in anger often, we will deplete our liver chi. When our Liver chi is balanced we have smooth emotional transitions and a sense of energized ease.This is the time of year to lay off the booze and add in bitter greens and more fresh earthy foods. Our friend Lexa Keane of Sacred Circle Herbal recommends using an herbal tonic for about a week to support the liver. Yes, you can get the good stuff from her if you aren’t yet your own herbalist:) (more about Lexa and her products here!)
The postures to favor this time of year are hip openers to liberate and stir the primal energy of the second chakra and core work focusing on bandhas to direct that unbridled sexual force into refined creative energy in our lives.The Chakra most associated with this meridian pair is Manipura (the naval chakra) which governs our will. It is very important to consider your reactivity as all this energy gets moving. The force of Spring is, as I said, explosive and when circumstances block our rising pulsation we can get very aggressive. Meditating on compassion and loving kindness can temper the intensity of this season.
Remember that each season has its own beauty and that through our conscious choices we sow the seeds of our future seasons. As always, movement, meditation, inquiry, creativity, and community are central to our practice of awakening in the Mission Yoga family.
Our Mindful Vinyasa Program will help you discover your own voice as a teacher and empower you to share your love of yoga with others. You will refine your understanding of the science and art of yoga through the study of anatomy, physiology, and philosophy. We only offer one Program a year and we limit the number of students that are accepted to our program in order to ensure a high level of personal attention and an intimate experience of transformation. You will learn to sequence, theme, and teach a purposeful alignment based flow practice, graduating with the confidence to follow your bliss.
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