I often hear people tell me that they cannot do yoga because they are not flexible. When I hear that I smile gently and ask if I can do one simple test to see if they can “do yoga” but before we do the test I ask them inhale and exhale for me. After they take a breath, I happily inform them that they have passed the test and in fact they CAN do yoga. Often times I get a puzzled response back “but you only asked me to breathe?” and I answer, “Exactly!”
Breathing is the corner stone of any conscious based practice. The best way to find yourself in the present moment is to become aware of your breath. This simple yet effective technique allows you to become familiar with your own body. When you become aware of your breath, you begin to notice the quality of your breath; whether your breath is shallow, irregular, if you are holding your breath after an inhale or exhale. Once you identify the patters of your breath you can begin to consciously regulate your breath. One of the techniques to regulate your breath is to extend the inhalations and exhalation to the same count (Sama Vritti Pranayama). For example inhale to the count of four and exhale to a count of four. Notice how your body feels just after two minutes of the equal breathing technique.
The system of yoga is designed to get us to a state of total integration. In order to become fully integrated we need to orient ourselves in the present moment. From the first moment you step on your yoga mat in my class, I will guide to find your breath and encourage you to stay present with it through the whole class. Each person’s yoga journey is unique to them. The burdens we carry are different, our bodies are different, and our physical abilities are different. However, our goal is the same; the unification with the divine. Yoga is a process and a way of life. A process of self-discovery on and off the mat. You may not be ready to put your leg behind your head at this point of your journey, but if you are curious about finding yourself you are ready for yoga. Remember that it all starts with your breath and the flexibility of the mind and body will come.