Really Breathing

On the rock at Netala - Swamiji's Jalasamadhi pool

On the rock at Netala - Swamiji's Jalasamadhi pool

Its so easy to get into a habit – even with something as interesting and challenging as a daily yoga practise, standing on my head, twisting my spine, balancing at new angles, there’s still a small element of the expected and known that seeps in through the repitition and brings me enough mindspace to wander off.  To leave my practise, and be somewhere else – worrying, planning – not present.

I know about the breath.  Sure – I’ve studied it, read about it, even taught other people to watch it.

But today the practise brought an unexpected moment.  A really softening breath.  I didn’t really know what that meant before – today, it just happened.  Usually, in stronger poses, I can feel my breath.  Its quite physical –  body is pushing it out, and pulling it in, and I’m “working” with it – i.e. theres a lot of control involved, me and my mind are in charge here.

Funny thing happened on the way to a really deep forward bend… my strong breath softened in an unusual moment, and became something much bigger. It became that moment of surrender I’ve told my own students to look for and didn’t realise I was actually missing before! 

Probably indescribeable, because others have explained this to me and it only became clear when it actually happened to me. 

Wish all of you can experience it.  Its a soft filling of the lung cavity with something that is probably air and probably has a lot more to do with Chi/LifeForce/Prana than I realised before.  And a gentle escape outwards of lots of things, including the old air I’ve scrubbed of oxygen, the strain of the pose I was pushing a little, some worry, some doubt, some mind stuff I didn’t even know was there, and the body curls down sweetly a little closer to itself, a lot softer, a lot more comfortable.

Then it happened again later – not straight away, because I’d noticed it the first time and that kind of stops these processes straight away – the mind is a terrible Director, it wants to be in charge of everything that is happening, and when its not, it kind of over observes and inflicts language and translation and meaning onto events that cover over the more subtle sensations and make them disapear in a flurry of “Hey – what was That!?”

Having felt the sweetness once though, I tried to leave the space open for something to come back into my body, a kindness, an acceptance that has been missing recently, a metaphorical hug !  It did come – again, a sensation hard to describe, just the breath breathing itself into the body, each part welcoming the other, the breath and the body old friends knowing how to communicate without words to break the magic of it.  I tried to be very very still and just watch it happening, and so there isn’t much to describe… :-))

Which brings me to the point.  Very much in awe of those who have practised for many years, I recently began to wonder if there was any reason for me to do so – the asanas I’d been taught all seemed to be working for me, I was certainly breathing (?!) and small parts of my life have been going more smoothly, so it seemed yoga had done what it could for me. Maybe there was something new I had to study…

Ha! Now I am again a beginner.  This moment of awareness has opened a whole level of subtlety beyond my capacity to explain.  The practise calls me to come and try again, to be still enough for that sweet small breath to come of its own accord, to enter my body and leave with such grace and finesse, bringing endless moments of silence – which escape equally gracefully into the chaos of thought as I start to analyse and think about it –  leaving a longing for the repitition of that moment, in its wake.  An understanding of the value of going into this space each day – perhaps even more than once a day – to find enough silence, enough quietude to allow the breath to rise of its own – starts to dawn on me.

the yoga mat beckons.

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