I found a paper in my Yoga teachers training pile – and on it is a short phrase written in large capitalized letters that cover the entire page. If memory serves, I wrote it down during a retreat as my teacher was talking. I don’t recall if it was a sponatenous phrase or if he was quoting another source – but it is a gem of wisdom:
A change in breath can diminish the experience of limits. A breathing pattern is usually committed to memory and the limits are associated with it. When the breathing is altered, the memory of the limit disappears and we can explore beyond.
May was mostly about rounding corners and shedding extremes. Emotionally it was a bland month. Depression had moved on, and in it’s place was a feeling of emptiness, lack of motivation to be or to do. Which seems to have been the right thing for me. I spent more time resting, staring out the window in the mornings … I occasionally visited my Yoga mat for short practices. There wasn’t yet any steadiness … but there was much less unsetadiness.
I made a conscious choice to move as little as possible, I didn’t leave the house unless I had to (once a week shopping for food). In the mornings I would sit next to the big window in our livng room – and look outside. We had some of the best weather in the year and yet I didn’t go outside to sit on the porch. I would ask myself “Would you prefer to sit outside?” and the answer was constantly “No, I’d rather be inside.”.
My choice not to move also led to the defining event of May – my sister’s birthday. My parents invited us to join them for a typical family celebration. Andreea chose to go, I chose not to. It wasn’t a stubborn choice, I considered the invitation and felt that it was better I didn’t. I could feel myself moving towards better and leaving the house would have taxed me and probably set me back again. It wasn’t a difficult choice – but it did have it’s own resonance. First there was my parents who were offended by me – but I have grown used to that. I try to communicate my reasoning when possible – but my reasoning mostly does’t make sese to them. There was more difficulty in the fact that Andreea chose to go without me. This put her in the center of our family frictions. We felt this in the days before she went to my parents.
My sister seemed fine with this. She came to visit us soon after and we enjoyed a pleasant weekend together.
These words were written well into the month of June – so I can say without a doub that my choices were to good effect.
It is common knowledge that taking a deep breath is relaxing – how about taking a few deep breaths?
For this practice you will need a place to sit, a few quiet minutes and familiarity with Ujjayi breathing:
- Find your quiet place and a comfortable seated position with your eyes closed.
- Sit quietly for a minute or two and observe your natural breathing.
- Gradually move into Ujjayi breathing – let it build until the length of your exhale is longer then (or at least equal to) the length of your inhale. Do this until you have a steady pace of breathing.
- Count 8 breaths.
- Count 8 more breaths adding a short pause after exhaling.
- Count 8 more breaths adding a short pause after inhaling (in addition to the pause after exhaling).
- Count 8 more breaths without any pauses (like the first 8).
- Resume natural breathing and stay for another minute or two to observe.
- Gently open your eyes.
- Resume life 🙂
If you have a tailored pranayama practice you can ask your teacher for a shorter variation you can use instead of this general sequence.