“The difficulty is that it’s so simple, but the more you do it, the more you will open the treasures.” - Devarshi Steven Hartman on the breath (Pranayama) at Yoga Journal NYC. So often we feel our biggest challenges and goals lie in the seemingly impossible poses that our teachers or mat neighbor contort themselves in, but as many teachers expressed last weekend, the question is: are you looking to ‘get a workout’ or are you looking to ‘experience yoga’?
Many of us start our journeys for the former reason – we get a nice workout and it makes us feel pretty good. But the magic is found in the second ‘feel good’ part. With practice we begin to experience deeper connections of the body, mind and soul, which come primarily through the breath…then we start feeling really good. Qualities like ease, center, peace of mind and greater functioning of the body’s systems appear more. For seasoned yogis, pranayama is a way to merge consciousness in the Infinite.
This isn’t just for yoga practitioners either – we can reap the benefits conscious breathing in our every day lives, whether in other sports, hobbies or passions. It’s simply a practice to “be here now” and to be aware that “this is what it feels like for me, NOW”. In taking time to breathe slowly and deeply, we become aware, and can bring unconscious pattern to the forefront (making it easier to notice and change habits that no longer serve us). Such a valuable tool that we have within ourselves!
I adored Steven Hartman’s Power of the Breath class at the Yoga Journal Conference. It went much deeper, explaining the Koshas and various pranayama techniques. “The breath,” he said, “is the foundation of creating consciousness. If you are present and conscious, it’s yoga. If you aren’t, it’s not yoga.”
Simple, right? ☺