The principal aim of practicing Yoga is to connect you with your inner being. The breath is the meeting place between of the external world with your inner world; the link between the body, mind and spirit. When practicing Yoga we must keep the breath flowing; inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils at all times.
Just for a few moments, whilst sitting comfortably, place your hands on either side of your ribcage and and close your eyes. Observe your breathing, lengthen your inhalation and your exhalation, listen carefully and feel the sensations of the subtle flow of air and energy. Notice whether your ribcage and abdomen are expanding and contracting. Release judgement, observe and accept the beauty of the present moment. An inner sense of calm will emerge. This is your birthright. Use your awareness to bring yourself to your centre at anytime that you feel the need.
What are the deeper benefits?
Regular asana practice is likely to reduce overall physical discomfort, but it also helps build up behavioral patterns of awareness and inquiry that can help reduce mental and emotional discomfort. Just as we summon courage to do postures that we are apprehensive of, we find courage to face situations in other parts of our lives. Just as we learn to breath and maintain our grace during challenging postures, we learn to take a deep breath and maintain our sense of self during other challenging times.
When we find a joint or muscle aching, we learn to look for causes and solutions… Then, when we find mental or emotional disturbances, we already have a predisposition to seek out causes and solutions. We look for the ways in which our own choices are contributing to our discomfort… as well as the ways in which our response to external circumstances may be causing us unnecessary distress. In this way, our perception of suffering is gradually reduced. It’s not so much that yoga will transform each day into a paradise of roses and cake… but rather that yoga will transform our minds such that we are increasingly able to perceive difficult moments with interest, grace, and wisdom.
Remember to Breathe…….
When we bring our attention to the breath we are truly anchored in the present moment. The breath is our connection with life. It is the bridge between the inner and the outer worlds. To observe the breath without trying to manipulate it in any way will bring a quietness to the mind. We are human beings not “doings” and most of our waking lives are spent trying to achieve objectives in an active way. Being in a comfortable position and just being with our breath is a valuable exercise that reminds us of who and what we are: Beings.
To just observe without judgement requires a certain amount of detachment. A position of total acceptance must be maintained. Focusing on the sensations of our breathing, does the breath enter more through one nostril than the other? Do we inhale for longer than we exhale? Is the sensation of the air warm or cold? Do we breathe into the right lung more than the left or vice versa? Do we breathe into the top, sides or base of the lungs? Does it feel tight or relaxed? Just observe the sensations, don’t judge or manipulate, or alter the breathing in any way. It is okay to just be. This may be a rare moment in our lives when we are good enough just being, not striving towards some other reality.
A focus on the ebb and flow reminds us that life is all about balance. This balance is reflected in the natural world. The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. There is day and there is night. There is a time for action and a time for non-action. The inhalation is the taking in, the exhalation is the letting go. There is also the pause of space between the inhalation breath and the exhalation breath; a perfect moment of silence and peace when we can be at one with the universe.