BREATH ACCEPTS YOUR IMPERFECTION
OCTOBER 14, 2010. The breath accepts us unconditionally. It is always all forgiving and accepting. Think about it, we ignore our breath, treat it with total disregard, prevent it from entering our body by holding our breath out when stressed, we behave casually towards it making little to no commitment. If we were a lover and the breath was our boyfriend, he'd leave us!
But not our breath. It lovingly accepts our human imperfection and gives us another chance, and another, and a million and more. There is a lesson here: when we breath we have another chance to try our best, We are not practicing to be perfect. We are practicing to make real, to realize the beauty of our humanness. Yoga philosophy helps us to see that we are perfectly imperfect. Eventually the more you practice becoming enamored with your breath you allow it to become your best teacher. And a shift happens.
As the breath accepts you, you start to accept yourself. Then as you practice this advanced yoga of self-acceptance you become more compassionate and forgiving of others, just as you are towards yourself. If you love yourself, you know how to love others unconditionally. And even when other people in your life make mistakes, you appreciate their imperfections and give them a second, third, millionth chance.
"You see the wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice (and in the other practices of yoga as well) to be able to remain “easy” in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom. When we learn this then everything we do and everything we say becomes an “asana”, a position of body, mind and soul which requires the attention that brings us into the present." And in that present moment there is perfect presence.
Practice breathing on purpose today. But pranayama is not about belittling the breath or forcing or making it perfect. The literal translation is below. And it doesn't say anything about perfect. It says conscious, deliberate. So we try.
Tasmin sati svasa prasvasaho gati-viccheda pranayama
Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of asana practice.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.49
Our key breath learning in this practice was about chest breathing. I have included a quick summary for you below. The greater take away is how the breath accepts your imperfections, it knows you will forget and will welcome you back to try and in that trying may you be PRESENT. Love yourself, Love your day, Love your life! Silvia
This is probably the most common breathing pattern in today's stress-filled society. Also known as paradoxical breathing, it is a natural reflex when we are suddenly startled or frightened. We gasp, pull the abdomen in and breathe high into the chest. The lift of the abdomen and pelvic floor prevents the diaphragm from descending completely as we inhale. Chest breathers restrict breath movement in the abdomen, forcing it higher up into the chest, while shoulders move up and down.
Effect on mind/body
Chest breathers rely on weak upper body muscles. Thereby developing chronic tension in thoracic spine, shoulders and neck. Moreover, this tension is resistant to massage or any other relaxation therapy as it recapitulates the moment the person resumes chest breathing, which is an incredible 22,000 times a day! Since we can't breathe in fully, we can't breathe out fully also. So we resort to breathing more quickly to make up for lack of oxygen. Scarier still is the fact that it sets the stage for an even more serious breathing problem: hyperventilation. Chest breathers normally sit on the edge of their seats and exude anticipation in their entire bearing. They never seem to have enough time to do all the tasks they set out on and often experience a chronic, free-floating state of anxiety. Scientific evidence now points to the connection between chest breathing, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Observe the movement of both. If both your shoulders and chest are rising, you are probably not a chest breather. A chest breather suppresses breath in the lower abdomen, forcing it to move higher up into the body.
How to let go
Relax your shoulders and upper back. Consciously follow normal breathing pattern. Mentally assess yourself without judgement. Ground yourself in the present.
(If you want to explore deeper learnings join me on retreat, yoga vacation www.silviamordini.com or www.alchemytours.com)
WHAT IS REAL WHO HAS IT EASIER THAN YOU?
CYCLES OF LIFE BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
The thing that inspires me about this succession of life is that it never ends. After every ending, there is a new beginning. For instance, when a bone breaks, some of the cells will die but the bone will quickly start regenerating and will actually seek out similar cells to mend. Then the place where it was broken but has come together now becomes the strongest part of the bone! It is the death, that allows the rebirth of a stronger, transformed body. Another example is the prairie, where the burning of fire is necessary to release the seeds that are captured in strong shells.
Shiva, the destroyer is celebrated in Hindu mythology as much as Bhrama, the creator, or Vishnu, the sustainer, since they are connected in a constant loop of life and death and rebirth. A study on longevity found a common thread among those who live long is their ability to endure loss. This shows me it is not the losses that define us but rather how quickly we recover our emotional equilibrium after difficulties and allow the healing cycle to take place.
The inspiration for me comes when we remember this succession of life as we live our yoga. When we are in a challenging situation in life, do we cling to the drama, rehashing it over and over, staying stuck in past and future? We can actually get in the way of nature's cycle by not loosening our grip on our difficulties. I know I do this as I over analyze my life, trying to figure out my next steps or trying to understand the why things happened the way they did. Yet, the gift of the present moment is constantly moving, with or without my connection with it.
So we practice this on the mat; we present each other with challenges to learn about ourselves and practice the art of staying calm, centered and connected to the present moment. Our breath is there to help us on this journey and we practiced 4-part breath. We moved in circles to remind the brain that life is not a linear race but rather a series of cycles that expand and contract as we live our days.
As Rolf Gates states, We wake up, we are stiff, we are fatigued, our minds wander, we come to the mat, we forget, we loosen up, we relax, we have energy, we remember, we live, we sleep, we wake up, we are stiff, etc.
I hope to see you soon on the mat where we will continue to connect with our unique current moments within the cycles of life. Much peace, Mara