Yoga teachers often remind students to focus on the breath. To connect to the breath. To coordinate movement and breath. On the one hand, this is just a mechanical instruction that can be followed without really practicing it deeply.
On the other hand, we can settle completely into the breath, letting it become the very center of our being, the focus of our attention, a pulsing with the rhythm of life. Mind and breath sort of “melt together.” Then, we maximize its magic: stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to decrease stress hormones, calming mind and relaxing the body. Focusing the mind in a meditative peacefulness.
We all know that the breath is key to life. Without breath, the body quickly shuts down. I invite you to move beyond this stark reality of “the breath of life” toward a subtler awareness of the power of the breath to transform your state of mind and body. Experiment with breathing techniques (pranayam) during your home practice this week, and really listen to your body. Notice your breath on and off the mat. How does your breath affect you?
Life is the breath. He who half breathes half lives.
~ Ancient Proverb