Being dim

light bulb momentDo you think I’m really dim?” I asked Hubby.

Uh… yeah!” he told me. Mock incredulity. Did I really need to ask!!

We were talking about yoga. Of course. Specifically we were talking about breath leading the movement. Clearly pretty important in yoga. Clearly very important in vinyasa style.

But hard, right? Or is it? Am I making it hard? Gosh, I’ve never been know to make things harder for myself than they need to be [heavy British irony here, folks!].

In the past I’d experienced the breath leading my body through vinyasas very passively. I’ve received it as a gift almost. Sometimes it just happens. It’s subtle but powerful. The breath comes to the fore and I am just led on by it, surrendering, no longer controlling. Not thinking and anticipating, just feeling. It’s rare, but it’s the most beautiful thing when it happens. I feel like I’m doing ‘real yoga’ when it’s like this. Most days (if I’m lucky) I just look as though I’m doing yoga. But the feeling is different. So different.

So here’s my recent revelation, sparked by my teacher focusing on breath-led movement in class recently: I could deliberately move my body fractionally after my breath. I needn’t wait for the magic moment when the breath really moves me, I could ‘fix’ the timing myself. And Hubby tells me this is how his practice always is. He begins his inhale and then, fractionally later, he moves his body. That’s why I’m being dim, because I hadn’t realised this was part of the technique. I go for simultaneous movement — as I inhale I draw forward from down dog to plank, as I exhale I start to lower down into chaturanga and so on. And that simultaneous movement of breathe and body sometimes transforms itself into the breath magically leading me — or it doesn’t.

So I tried Hubby’s way in class recently since the teacher was instructing the breath more insistently than usual, and my conscious focus was repeatedly drawn here by his reminders.

And yet…

And yet this isn’t it. This doesn’t feel the same to me. This is a conscious act of will and of cognitive intention. It might be a good practice, but it’s not the beautiful gift that it is when it just happens spontaneously.

rolls royceSure, I could experiment more with conscious manipulation of my breath/movement, play with the synchronisation, and try being a tad behind the breath. But that’s not the Rolls Royce practice, it’s just an every day make-do. I just don’t think I’m going be my vehicle to enlightenment!

Or am I really being dim?

—–

image source: Rolls Royce from Wikipedia

8 thoughts on “Being dim

  1. You may be over-thinking it a bit. I’d say “Just let it happen” but as advice goes that’s probably kinda annoying, lol. Instead, when you do your yoga, just make sure your breath is calm and measured. You’ll find as you arch back and open the chest you naturally want to inhale. And as you bend forward and close down the chest, you naturally want to exhale. The timing will sort itself out.
    Perhaps just work on it in the sun salutations, and then don’t think about it during the asanas.

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  2. hmmmm… I think there’s something I’m not catching here.
    In the Ashtanga Vinyasa style practice that I mainly follow, the breath counts are very precise, and Ujjayi pranayama is used throughout. So there is definitely an effort to give a specific shape to the breath. But as I practise on my own, that breath might be longer or shorter, depending upon any number of variables. In a class, of course, the teacher would be calling out the breath, so I would try and synchronize with that.
    Gee.
    I really don’t think that there is only one way to approach breathing, or the yoga practice either.
    The body knows how to breathe! Maybe we just need to get out of the way : )

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    • he he — yes, ‘get out of the way’ is what I need, k8. But it’s weird when you compare notes in detail with someone how different their practice is, or at least seems to be in the way they describe it or in the intention they have. Hubby doesn’t want to get ‘out of the way’ — he wants to be totally there the whole time very consciously. Whereas I’m hoping I’ll kind of merge into the practice. So I think he deliberately, almost mechanically, uses and controls the breath in a way I don’t — hence subtly different approaches to timing. We’re actually not practicing with the same intent at all and maybe it’s that more than anything that I picked up in our conversation. He’s controlling the breath, I’m hoping the breath will control me.

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  3. @kwd: I thought I *was* letting it happen — and sometimes it ‘worked’ (i.e. felt soft and natural) more than other times… But Hubby’s comment made me wonder if I was being really sloppy! He clearly focusses a lot more on the subtle timing of this than I do!

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    • As far as I know, the only ‘wrong’ type of breathing is short, agitated breaths. If you can avoid them then you’re winning in my book. Timing is never going to be exact, and it will be different every day, because you’re different every day. But as long as you breathe in, and breathe out, and your mind is happy, then it’s all good. 🙂

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  4. Disclaimer: Not taking sides here:)
    I’ve learnt to move after the breath instruction and find twists and forward extensions better after exhalation as does staying longer in the poses.
    An old student said something about the parasympathetic system getting activated after 30 seconds of being in a pose. Beginning to rewire new neural connections takes a hold of 90 seconds or more and that’s why in the Iyengar tradition, the poses are held longer.

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