“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”
― Sylvia Plath
It wasn’t too many months ago that I was having a love affair with the pauses between breaths. Now it shouldn’t be a surprise to find myself enchanted with inhaling.
One day I began my yoga practice just as I had thousands of times before. The attention was drawn to the breath like it usually is, but on this day I became acutely aware of just how good it felt to simply breathe in! It was a revelatory moment. Something so simple and ordinary became astonishingly joyful. It was absolutely breathtaking (well, I mean breath-giving :)
Inhaling is about our ability to receive. In every breath we are bringing in more life force, also known as ‘prana’ in yoga. The gift of life comes to us through the vehicle of the breath. It is life itself. From the Taittiriya Upanishad: “…Breath is the life of beings and so is called ‘the life of all.’” Consider that life is loving us through the breath—nourishing, invigorating, enlivening and even healing us.
We have the ability to direct this loving, animating principle. Taking deep, conscious breaths and sending prana to constricted, injured or painful areas can be a potent way to work with physical trauma. I’ve found the breath to be THE most beneficial ally in dealing with physical discomfort and challenges.
In a bike accident in 2008 I had my jaw broken. Although I had surgery, that was only part of my healing process. I also used the breath—combined with intention, visualization and meditation—as a way of dealing with the trauma in every layer of my being.
While working with people teaching yoga, iRest meditation, or intensive self-inquiry weekends, the breath is often a key ingredient while moving through places of stagnation. This ceaseless, invisible life force has the capability of bringing more stability and clarity to the mind, and greater relaxation and cleansing to the body. It is the prominent salve in healing, and in calming emotional tidal waves…
During this Valentines season, may you know and experience the love that the breath offers.