For the past several weeks, I have been attending a class called Yoga philosophy: beyond the poses. I think I am in love.
We are studying the Eight Limbs of Yoga and I am totally buying what they are selling. I sit in class, nodding in agreement like a crazed bobble-head doll, feeling that these ancient concepts are perfectly aligned with what I always felt about spirituality and life. I think that back in 100 BCE, Mr. Patanjali was talking directly to me.
We are working our way through the eight limbs and this week we discussed Pranayama – yogic breathing.
It is kind of nuts that unless you are a singer, you don’t learn about breathing. How is it that I am 33 years old and I have never spent two hours devoted to studying my breath? It is my life force and if I stop doing it for more than a minute, I die. Perhaps it’s worth a little of my time.
We practiced many different types of breathing techniques to improve the quality of our breath. A few of them made me want to puke. This is apparently normal. When you are just learning how to breathe properly, your body rebels a little; I think of it like the body version of my Monkey Mind.
Here’s the other kicker – I breathe wrong. Yep, my whole life, I’ve been doing it incorrectly. I am what is known as a “reverse breather.” This means that when I breathe in, I suck my stomach in. This is wrong. It doesn’t allow the diaphragm to expand and let air into the lower parts of the lungs. This makes it difficult for the prana, or energy, to flow properly and now I have exercises (like the three part breath) so I can begin to correct this habit.
When I got up this morning, my first thought was – oh, yay! I get to try out new breathing today!
I’m now seeing something clearly which has always been there, but I was too preoccupied to notice. The breath is simple but epic and essential to the quality of my life. I can now appreciate its beauty and engage to the best of my ability.
This is the way I want to start waking up to my life.
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