While it’s natural to feel anxious and fearful during times of change and uncertainty, the challenge we face is that fear can easily take over our lives. We’ve been experiencing this for the past 18 months. In times like this, the most powerful thing we can do is pause and get grounded. How do we do this? I know what you’re thinking. Chocolate. But, no, I was thinking about something that is always there to support us: we always have our breath.
Yoga philosophy tells us the breath embodies our essential life force known as Prana. Prana is the breath of life. Bringing our awareness to the breath is a way of influencing how we experience life. Eight to twelve times a minute, and over 22,000 times a day, year in and year out, we take a breath. Nothing is more fundamental to life than breath. Your breath is always there with you bringing with it the wonders of life; it is able to ground you, it is able to enliven and energize you. Each inhale allows the breath of life to flow through your body. With each exhale, the breath of life flows back into the universe from which it came. Breathing is rhythm, pulsation. Each breath has four primary parts: the inhale, the pause at the top, the exhale, and the pause at the bottom. Using various pranayama (breath control) techniques and changing the ratios between these four parts of the breath, you can produce different feeling states. The image above is timed to a 5-count inhale and 7-count exhale. Take the time to match your breath with the image for at least 10 breathing cycles. A little bit longer exhale allows you to feel more relaxed and grounded. How do you feel?
Yoga is a union of the mind and body and something bigger than ourselves from which the breath comes. The breath is the universe’s manifestation as each of us. We know this because we do not have to do anything to breathe. In fact, we can completely ignore our breath our whole life and the breath will still breathe us. It is the true gift of embodiment. Yet, when we become aware of the breath, when we connect body and mind through the breath, we can shift the feelings of tension and anxiety to a feeling of overall well-being. This feeling of well-being and being centered and grounded is what we all seek. Yoga is the practice of connecting to this deep essence within each of us represented by the breath. In this connection, we find support, comfort, and a sense of ease, even in the chaos that may swirl around us.
Give yourself the opportunity to focus on your breath by matching your breath with the picture above. Or, better yet, come onto your yoga mat and focus on your breath in any of our in-studio and online classes this week. We look forward to helping you ground and find balance.
As always, thank you for reading my musings. Namaste, Leslie