Activate Your Energy with Breath (audio 3:53)
I spent well over a year of my home practice focusing on sun salutations and how I moved with breath through them. Some of the most profound wisdoms about practice and life came to me during that year of sun sals. I spent the entire year being mindful, paying attention to how my breath moved my body from pose to pose in flow. During that year, I learned alignment, but not by studying. Rather, my breath just pushed my body into precise alignment, and I learned it as a side effect.
My journals during that time logged a large library of alignment AHAs I had never heard in classes or from teachers, as well as a vast collection of understandings about my body mechanics and chemistry. When I started teaching these concepts to my own classes, students came to me commenting that they had never felt poses, nor understood alignment and energy like that before.
Full mindful breath creates optimal alignment!
When I really thought about it, it makes perfect sense. When I would breathe fully and deeply, I would inflate my body, fueling it with oxygen rich blood, and everything just sort of landed in the right and perfect place! My body responded to breath like one of those inflatable characters at a used car dealership. When I inhaled just, I found perfect posture!
Being the curious researcher that I am, I tumbled down a different kind of rabbit hole, reading the research of pulmonologists, cardiologists, respiratory therapists, neurologists, and more. I became an armchair expert on the element of oxygen and its function in the human body, and started developing my own theories about oxygen and energy based on concepts such as Caesar’s Last Breath (a theory that states that at any given moment every human on earth is breathing an atom or element that Caesar exhaled in his dying breath).
Let’s all agree that breath is the vehicle on which your life-force travels. Without breath, we are dead. We need breath, and more specifically, the oxygen within your breath, to fuel all the functions of your body.
In yoga, breathing practices are called pranayama. In Sanskrit, prana is the life force of the body, as symbolized by breath; yama literally translates as “restraint” or “death,” or “surrender” and loosely translates to “control.” Thus, the practice of pranayama, is this oddly opposing practice of controlling your breath as a means of surrendering to your life force. If that isn’t upside-down, backwards and inside-out like wonderland, I don’t know what is! Yet, I after my year of sun sals focused on breath, I totally get it. When I control my breath, and surrender to my breath as the vehicle that moves my body, MAGIC!
For me, the kind of breathing I did, which I call focused breathing (similar to ujjayi) moves air through my sinus cavity, which is close to the middle of the skull. Physically, this is where the ear canals, eye ducts, nasal cavity, and throat meet—and where the five senses merge. One of my major yogi’s log AHAs was when I realized through my focused breathing activates my “sixth sense” because it is actually all five senses working together as one. Not only did it physiologically transport oxygen through my system in the most efficient manner, it brought me to a fuller awareness of my intuition through the merging of all your senses.
What is the biggest AHA about breath you have had in your Home Wonderland practice? (share in the comments below)