“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” ~Author Unknown
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend an Ayurveda workshop at the Asheville Yoga Center. It’s required for my 500-hour RYT training, but this is one particular module I’ve been waiting for, for almost two years now. It seems like every time it’s been offered in the past two years, I’ve always had something else scheduled during that same time, and I’d begrudgingly wait, hoping the next time I’d be able to attend. This weekend, all the stars were aligned and I was able to go. It was simply amazing!
Dr. Scott Blossom led the training throughout the entire weekend, assisted by Jenya Grant. Dr. Blossom is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is an ayurvedic practitioner, and also a yoga teacher. Jenya is also an ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher. Both of them had some amazing insights to share, and I wish I’d had more time to talk with them, but the workshop was full and it was jam-packed with information…there simply wasn’t enough time to ask everything I wanted to. But I now have a good start on several areas I want to explore further, and I can’t wait to get started. I am a researcher to the core, and I am simply giddy about what I’m about to embark on in my journey.
My biggest take-away? Breathe well. If you can find a good and full breath, you’re more able to stimulate your circulation. And circulation is where it’s at…it’s what directs all the fluids through your body. If your circulation is “stuck”, then it’s unable to efficiently direct the fluids where they need to go. And if you’re not breathing properly, your circulation won’t be doing what it should be doing.
So why was this such a big take-away for me? After all, I always talk about breathing in the yoga classes that I teach, right? But in this workshop, Dr. Blossom kept emphasizing the breath, cuing us to check it often and make sure it was full, reaching all the necessary parts of our bodies, and rhythmic. He said that if we felt the breath losing its rhythmic quality, or if we didn’t feel it reaching into all the parts it needed to get to, that means we’re in the particular pose in a way that is not serving us…in a way that is unhealthy. In essence, it’s weakening and destroying the circulation.
When I forced myself to focus on my breath in such an intent way, I realized that I am very much guilty of “muscling through” certain poses, and by doing so, I am losing touch with proper breathing. No wonder I sometimes feel so out of sorts after a practice sometimes! My biggest nemesis this weekend was Chaturanga. Normally, I can do a full Chaturanga with no issues, and I can do quite a few in each practice. Not this weekend. Yesterday, I think I made it through three of them before I had to start modifying. Today I couldn’t do one without modifying.
I could blame it on being tired. After all, I got up at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning so that I could pick up my friend (it was SO nice having some buddies with me at this workshop, by the way…another friend met us there) and get to Asheville by 9:00 a.m. Then we were in the workshop all day on Friday, and there was homework to get done before Saturday morning. So yeah, I was tired, but that’s not why I had to modify. When I was forced to pay such close attention, I noticed that after a few rounds, I would hold my breath on the way down so as not to jeopardize my form. But though my physical form probably looked impeccable, my demeanor was far from it. I could tell I was getting frustrated, then I noticed my chest was constricted and so was my back…and it was all because I wasn’t allowing the breath to fill up all the spaces in my torso it was meant to. Once I modified the pose, my breath took the shape it was meant to, and my practice got back on track.
Let’s just say I came away from this weekend not just with a wealth of information to further explore, but also very humbled. Going back to the basics in order to master my breathing is definitely something I will be working on in my personal practice. For quite some time now, yoga has been more for me that just a workout. It’s been so helpful in improving and maintaining my physical and emotional health. However, what I learned this weekend was a proverbial smack in the face to step it up and truly PRACTICE. I’ve always known how important the breath is…it’s been hammered into me over the years. But for some reason, this weekend, the message finally reached my stubborn brain and let me know that it’s more harmful to my health and well-being to keep muscling through certain poses with my breathing being secondary.
My breath should be first. Find the breath…find the full and rhythmic breath…and you’ll know you’re in the pose you’re meant to be in. Let go of the ego so you can make your way to this point. And when you can reach this point, your circulation will reach its maximum potential. And when that happens, you’re on your way, baby!
So breathe. Just breathe. Breathe and be well.