Breath work is an ancient practice – cultures around the world since the dawn of humanity have been using the breath as a way to take in spiritual nourishment, purify the body, cultivate presence and to move into expanded states of consciousness. Some practices, like yoga pranayama, are very formal and prescribed, where certain types of breath control are used for specific purposes. Other forms like conscious circular or holotropic breath work are more organic and unstructured. All forms are extremely beneficial and powerful life practices.
When Prana awakens within you, you embrace the transcendental consciousness of the Divine.
One of the forms of breath work that I have been embracing and sharing with others is the Breath of Bliss. This is a circular breath work practice which becomes a portal into our emotions, memories, sensations, dreams and consciousness. I have experienced and witness incredible transformation from this practice. Although Breath of Bliss (BOB) encompasses an entire group ceremony, you can still practice the breath at home on your own. Here is a short how to for those of you wanting to practice alone.
BOB is done through the mouth on both the inhale and exhale. The jaw is relaxed, the mouth is open, the body fully relaxed.
BOB Inhale: The inhale is expansive, ripe, full and luscious. It is easy, full and welcoming. The lungs expand freely, the abdomen easily inflates, and the heart and body opens. The inhalation is an invitation to feel more alive. Imagine hiking up a mountain and once you get to the top you witness the most incredible vista – the awe you might express in the breath at that moment, this is the BOB Inhale.
BOB Exhale: The exhale is a complete liberation. You let go without any force or effort. We release control and everything that does not serve anymore. It is a total surrender and you luxuriate in emptiness.
BOB Lack of Pause: This is very important – there is no pause at all between in the inhalation and exhalation. The inhale starts up immediately after the exhale and the exhale begins the moment the inhale ends. We let go of the pause to keep prana (vital life force) circulating in the body and flowing rapturously.
So how do I do this? Create a comfortable nest for yourself on the floor. Play some non lyrical music that you love. Lie down and begin to breathe. Circular breaths, connecting to the source, opening the body. Stay with the breath for 5-20 minutes or even longer. When you are done, rest and breathe normally for several minutes.
In Sanskrit, the word purna is described as perfection – but it means fullness or wholeness. Our human experience of perfection is very far from this, it is rigid, small, constricting and often paralyzing.
So the irony is that that our ideal of perfection inevitably keeps us from the experience of perfection. Indian yogic texts tell us that the universal energy contained within everything (forms, thoughts and states of being) is called Shakti. This energy is filled with purna. Remembering that we are all created from and contain this Shakti helps us let go of being stuck in our ego centred perceptions. The truth is, we already are perfect.
I’m sure you have noticed the discernible shift from the warm days of summer to the cooler days of Autumn as we approach the Fall Equinox on Wednesday, September 23rd. This will be one of only 2 days in the year where night and day will be of equal length signifying that the balance between light and darkness is shifting. (more…)
“There is nothing permanent except change.” So goes the quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In life things arise, they abide and then they dissolve.
Our asana practice also mirrors this cycle of impermanence. In Vinyasa we connect to the smooth flow of our breath and movement. As we move through each pose, we are given a brief moment to settle (sometimes only a breath) and then once completed, it transforms into something new. Our lives and our thoughts are like this too – each moment arises, is there for just that moment and then dissolves as the new moment takes its place. (more…)