towards the end of the year-long hunch program, numerous sessions were dedicated to site-specific work. one of the sites we visited was dizengof center – a large and established shopping center in the heart of tel-aviv. i remember worrying about getting my photography equipment in – many places in israel give you a hard time because of an unhealthy mix of security and privacy paranoia. i was relieved when i went through smoothly by parking in the underground garage, instead of walking through one of the main entrances.
i wasn’t really happy about this location. i am not a big fan of shopping malls, especially big and busy ones like this one. we gathered on one of the top floors and i recall shahar inviting us to look out and down at the space. at first I saw the noise i expected to see, but then, rather quickly, i felt as if all of my senses were softening and coming slightly out of focus – and the noise became peaceful. the place became a single living & sensible organism – and i was inside it, no longer an outside observer. my body became soft & relaxed and my anxiety and opposition faded.
shahar spoke about a place having its own resonance and how we can relate to this resonance. we can resonate with the place and become a part of it and we can resonate in another frequency and stand out – we can appear and disappear at will. it sounds magical and it is. the group split into smaller groups of two or three people and went to explore and work in the space. i traveled the vast space – sometimes visiting shortly with a group and other times joining and working for a longer period of time with others. on numerous occasions i recall looking around and wondering how can people ignore some of the weird and crazy stuff that we were doing. people were walking past us as if we weren’t there. magic.
for me the main event took place around these stairs. ilay and yael were grazing the space and tamar was tagging along with them. i spotted ilay walking on these stairs from a distance and i ran to a vantage point on the opposite side just in time to meet this image.
then an amazing story began to unfold with tamar. i am not inclined yet to write about it – i still feel it is a very intimate story, more hers then mine. maybe i’ll ask her permission to write about it. this image of fear, yearning, craving, surrender and friendship is a beginning of that story – at the end of which tamar commanded the attention of people as far as two floors above us.
This is what the sky looks like right now!
This is what it looked like during the last storm
and this is my chest
When we are relaxed our breathing is slower – each breath is long and relaxed. When we are stressed, anxious, worried, fearful our breathing is faster – each breath is short and sharp. This is common knowledge. Consider this:
- An average adult person breathes 16-20 breaths per minute – each breath is 3-4 seconds long.
- With just a few yoga lessons most people can easily bring that down to 8-10 breaths per minute – each breath is 6-8 seconds long.
- With consistent practice (weekly lessons) many people can bring that even further down to 4-6 breaths per minute – each breath 10-15 seconds long.
- With a personalized and consistent practice (~daily) practitioners can bring it down further to 2-3 breaths per minute – each breath 20-30 seconds.
- Given time (years of practice) that number goes down to 1-1.5 breaths a minute – each breath 40-60 seconds.
- … and this goes on
Now consider this:
“As per the traditional view, all human beings are endowed with a constant number of breaths. This is equivalent to living for one hundred years at the rate of fifteen breaths per minute. The total number of breaths per day is 21600. If one breathers more than 21600 times a day, his life span will obviously be lowered.
We all know that breathing becomes faster, when one is unwell or disturbed. This shows the importance of Yoga practice in regulating the breath and thus prolonging the life span.”
(Krishnamacharya commentary from “Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya” 1.35)
Assuming this is true, we are, as a species, under-performing. Krishnamacharya lived to 101 years old. My teacher tells a story that on Krishnamacharya’s 100th birthday he was asked to say something – so he uttered “Om” for one full minute (that would be a 60 second exhale). When asked how he managed to do it he replied that when he was 60 years old he could do 5 minutes.
“the pulse rate reflects whether a person is calm or has mental illness. A pulse rate ranging from 65 to 72 represents a calm mind. A pulse rate of more than 72 implies physical illness. If the pulse rate is more than 90, then the person has a combination of physical and mental illness”
(Krishnamacharya commentary on Visnu Purana 6.5.6
from “Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya“)
Your pulse (the number of time your heart beats in a minute) will provide you an additional perspective on the state of your body & energy. It is useful to familiarize yourself with it. To do this you will need to take it at regular times and similar circumstances (such as first thing in the morning, before lunch, etc.). In addition to counting your pulse, you may discover changes in its quality – it can be throbbing, gentle sharp, soft, steady, erratic,etc. This will give you a general reference point.
Then, there are numerous points in a Yoga practice in which you may want to measure your pulse:
- At the beginning of a practice.
- At the end of a practice.
- At a mid-point of your practice.
- After an intense sequence in your practice – before & after resting.
You may find that exercises that challenge your breath cause your pulse to rise, after which a short rest should bring it back down. Generally, your pulse at the end of a well-balanced practice should be equal to or less then your pulse at the beginning. You may want to make a list or a chart to write down your findings – so that you can observe change over time.
How to feel your pulse:
- Find a comfortable seated position where you can relax your arms.
- Turn one palm facing up.
- Use the index and middle finger of the other hand to feel the pulse.
- Trace the fingers along a path from your thumb – following the bone structure towards your wrist – until you reach a soft area into which your fingers can sink deeper.
- Use the tips of your finger (just before the fingernails) to feel your pulse.
- If you can’t find it you can apply more pressure, and then when you find it, release to a more gentle touch.
Practice finding your pulse. You should be able to find it quickly and without applying too much pressure (which may affect the pulse itself and give you an imprecise measurement).
To measure your pulse you will need a clock or timer that clearly shows seconds:
- Place your fingers in place and find your pulse.
- Look at the watch/timer and choose a round starting point to count.
- Count the beats of your pulse for 20 seconds.
- Multiply that number by 3 (to get the number of beats in a minute).
I find that taking the pulse can be both informative and meditative.