After 15 years of practicing physical yoga practice (asana), I think of myself as either a.) being able to do a pose, or b.) I am never going to “get” that particular pose. I might try some hard pose and get some benefit from the attempt — strength or patience building, for example — but I don’t expect to do the pose. I am totally OK with that.
Something was a little different in a class I took just this past week, I experimented with doing postures with intentional breathing. You’re probably wondering — aren’t you already breathing? Isn’t that a yoga thing? Yes. Yes, it is. And, you can easily inhale and exhale with wide sweeping movements; but, breathing when you are putting out a lot of muscular effort is a whole other thing. Just try to move a couch or an antique credenza — you will hold your breath at the exact point you are expending the most effort.
At this point, I’m fairly good at keeping my breath moving through hard poses. BUT, sometimes there are more particular, more subtle ways of moving the breath that support more difficult poses and the transitions between them. I was attempting to move from a high crescent lunge to Warrior 3 (video below). Because I finally listed to some cuing my teacher had given me, I emptied almost all of my breath on an exhale, before moving from the lunge into Warrior 3, I then slowly inhaled when I was at the top of the pose and continued with that slow breath while holding Warrior 3. Then, I used the exhale again to slowly bring my leg back into the lunge.
Though I can typically do this transition in and out of this pose, the breath work allowed me to move into it, hold it, and transition out of it in a much more focused, strong and mindful way. You’ll noticed that I start the transition a little wobbly in the video, but when I employ my breath the pose becomes more solid.
Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us to learn about moving mindfully through difficult things like moving furniture, or more importantly, difficult life change. Breathing intentionally helps to clear out the clutter in our minds, focus our attention on what you need to do, and use your breath to support you.
Amazing how that works?
Apply this learning to any change and transition that we face in life. What are your ways of breathing in and through the change so as to make the transition more focused, strong and mindful. The “breath” in this case may be self-care practices; boundary setting boundary around work time, or around a toxic relationship; it might be healthy eating and exercise; it could be whatever helps support you best.
You may also realize the biggest insight of all: “Getting” a pose or “completing” the change IS NOT the point. It’s not really even a good goal. Any yogi will tell you that the never really “get” a pose, it just constantly evolves during a long-term practice. Change, if we are really, truly honest with ourselves, is never ending. Just when you think you “get past” a tumultuous period in life, we get handed yet another challenging situation to face. Change is the constant and it is uncontrollable. You CAN choose to move though change with your breath — mindfulness, resilience, purpose and support.
Looking to learn how to use your breath (or any number of other mindfulness practices? Sign up for for a free consultation with me to learn how coaching or consulting might benefit you or your organization.
AND there is still room in my Move in a Different Direction online mindfulness retreat. Register by March 10!