As many of you know, Yoga Dear is in the middle of our Yoga Teacher Training program…although really I think of this as more like a yoga immersion (rather than solely “teaching”), but I digress.
We’ve been studying ancient yogic texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to understand the elements that make up a yoga practice: the ethics (yamas & niyamas), the postures, the breathwork, the meditation. Note: I wouldn’t recommend “starting” with these texts if you want to learn more about yoga. They can be a little…hmmm…challenging. ;)
Here’s what I’ve really been inviting into my practice lately that I think will be so very beneficial for you: The Breath aka breathing techniques and how they support the body-mind connection. This is known as “pranayama” in the yoga practice. And more than that, I’m really stuck on a particular Sutra that reads:
Sutra II.52: “As its [pranayama] result, the veil over the inner light is destroyed.”
Woooowww. Reread that. Then, let’s dig into this.
Our breath is an invitation to understand our mental and physical state. But, on the whole, you were likely never taught “how to breathe.” It’s okay. It’s not a standard part of the educational curriculum. For most of us, breathing is an involuntary exercise, meaning we’re not “telling” our brains to talk to our lungs to take in oxygen, expand the diaphragm, expel CO2, etc. Right?
However, pranayama can teach us to pay attention to our breath. To use it intentionally to calm the body, to energize it, to allow for better blood flow, to further oxygenate the body, to warm it, to soothe it, to prepare to speak, to prepare to sleep, and…wait for it…to better understand the Self. Breathing can help peel back the layers that mask the true you that lies within, removing the veil. Well, in Patanjali’s words, destroying it.
That’s a huge promise, no?!
You’ve heard that yoga movements are beneficial. You’ve likely also read that meditation is beneficial, too. But, there’s a key link between them and that is pranayama. How hard is it to sit down and meditate straight away? This is nearly impossible for me. But, we can use the breath as a tool to drop our minds and bodies into presence (rather than racing through what needs to get done today or what we’ve left undone).
As we practice a breathing technique, our minds can focus on that and nothing else. We can literally guide our bodies towards more ease or even wake them up for the day with breath. In this place, we feel calmer, more centered, grounded, perhaps even peace. That’s your true nature, your inner light.
From this place, we learn to embody stillness, to increase the time between a situation and our reaction, we learn to listen to our own intuition. The noise, that veil, begins to lift away on our mat for certain, but out in daily life, too.
How beautiful. I invite you to try a breathing technique today before you meditate or simply right now. It’s called Ujjayi pranayama. You know the sound your breath makes when fogging up a mirror? Yes? Now imagine sealing your lips together, and making that same sound as you breathe in and out through the nose, lightly constricting the muscles at the back of the throat. It may sound like ocean waves (or Darth Vader). Practice for five minutes. That’s it.
I can’t promise that any veil or shield will be destroyed in those five minutes. But, I can promise that with practice, your light grows brighter and brighter. I’d love to hear how this goes for you.
P.S. You might have seen me sharing more about sleep (for infants, toddlers, and full grown adults) on Instagram & Facebook. Why? Because I’m thisclose to finishing my studies as a sleep consultant - it’s so cool! You can read more about why I decided to become a Sleep Consultant here and if it makes sense for us to work together.
P.P.S. It’s January 22! There’s a little over a week left to complete the New Year Challenge! How’s it going?? 20 classes over the month or 30 classes shared with a partner is totally doable, right? ;) Winner coming at you in early February. Also, stay tuned for details on our Birthday Celebration! Coming soon!