Friday, April 23, 2010

Week 11 - Ariana

Quality of Breath

Today I decided to let my breath be the primary focus of the entire practice and to let my preoccupation with alignment fall to the wayside. Completely. No alignment. Just breath. Sounded like a simple task. But lo and behold with each pose my attention quickly latched on to other things - not just alignment points. "Back to breath" was my mantra and I used it multiple times in every pose and in between.

In the Vini Yoga tradition there is a principle that if you focus on the breath then alignment will follow. The Iyengar tradition holds that if you focus on alignment then the breath will come because you are creating space and opening channels for the breath. I think both are true and I enjoy exploring both paths.

It was very hard for me to only focus on the breath, but I did manage to keep coming back to it. I noticed how much the quality of my breath changed in each pose and how at certain points I was inclined to actually hold my breath. Like when I "lifted off" for Warrior III - as I lifted up my breath stopped after a short inhalation. But then in order to balance in the pose the breath had to come back. Breath and balance. Any time there was tension in my breath my jaw clenched and my tongue pressed to the roof of my mouth. It is a challenge to untie that knot. In order to find the breath I had to relax more in the poses - particularly in the belly and the jaw. Relaxation and breath go hand in hand.

In some poses the breath was smooth, long and steady. As expected, during the abdominal exercises my breath was shorter and stronger than usual and the inhalations were more challenging than the exhalations. In Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) my inhalation helped me expand in all directions and the exhale challenged me to keep the feeling of expansion while in the balance. During the shoulderstand sequence it was fuller and steady, but it felt like it took more effort to breathe fully while inverted.

Towards the end of the Ujjayi Pranayama my breath was effortless and so smooth like silk. The more I relaxed the more refined my breath became. At one point I felt like my whole body was breathing, pulsating with breath. Unfortunately as soon as I became aware of it and tried to continue doing that, the feeling went away. It was an involuntary experience.


elenadora said...

That was awesome! Probably one of the more interesting reads in awhile. Damn interesting......


M said...

Interesting read! I'm following the course myself, but being a relative yoga novice (I had my first lesson about a year ago) it takes much more time. Where Mr. I says 2 weeks, I need at least 3-4 to get enough 'grip' on the poses to proceed. But thats ok, I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey. I hope that I, one day, will have the same kind of profound experiences as you seem to have. Right now, I'm still too busy with not toppling over:) Keep up the good work ladies!