In yoga, there is a strong focus on the breath. We practise breath control techniques (breath of fire, segmented breath, breath suspension) to shift our internal experience. The breath reflects our state of mind. If the breath is shallow and fast you will notice life reflecting that same experience, you may feel stressed or anxious. Adjusting the breath from shallow and fast to full and deep can transform our mental, physical and emotional state from one of feeling anxious and stressed to one of feeling more centred and relaxed. Even if you don’t consider the circumstances you are in at the time to be controlled and relaxed, the breath can trick the body and mind into feeling this way. Life can then begin to reflect that back to you, through the flow of breath.
At the same time in our yoga practice, we learn to allow the breath to dictate movement. When we practice yoga we move with the breath, the inhale and the exhale. The breath comes before the movement and the movement reflects the breath. The breath reflects how we are feeling, whether we feel energised or more inward and nurturing. This can impact the speed of our practice and how deeply we extend into the postures. There is no right or wrong, only that moment and how your breath reflects your individual state in that moment. Noticing and respecting that is your yoga practice.
To flow with the breath is to flow with life. The breath is a great detoxifier. We breathe oxygen and fresh air in and then out. We also breathe pollutants in and then breathe them out. When we get sick or catch a cold, that’s something also to allow. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, getting sick isn’t seen as a reflection of bad general health, it’s seen as a part of life. Your health is more reflected by the body’s ability to move that illness through and out quickly, without getting stuck and sick for longer periods. There is an acceptance of the flow of life, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, the inflow and outflow.
Life (breath) is a gift. Like a surfer rides the waves and doesn’t control them, so too do we aspire to ride the flow of breath. By surrendering to the breath, we touch on the infinite expression of ourselves. With this in mind, each breath can be considered an opportunity for transformation and a doorway to new beginnings. The possibilities of the breath are infinite, limitless.
The physical body is the vehicle for the breath. Through the practice of yoga, the body opens, our balance and flexibility increases, our spine becomes long and strong. We feel more centred. All this impacts greatly on our ability to breath deeply.
When you feel more centred and relaxed, life will reflect that state back to you. You can begin to flow with life and the infinite amount of support that is available to you. The possibilities are limitless.
Here is a very interesting video on the breath and the inner voice , by the wonderful Shiv Charan Singh: