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yogis that we are born with a preordained number of breaths or heartbeats. The choice is ours for how fast or slow we use them as we fulfil our dharma. How many breaths do you have left? This idea was recently shared during my teacher training. As we held sleeping swan pose for many minutes, my yin yoga teacher added, “there is more truth in breath than thought.” I’ve heard her say this many times thinking it was just encouragement to focus on our breath as a means to calm distracting thoughts that arise during the long holds, but this time it made a deeper connection. In nature, the longest living creatures such as giant turtles, whales, and elephants take on average just 1-4 breathes per minute and are renowned for their slow,
leisurely pace and calm disposition. We can learn from these inspiring
animals how to slow down
and hopefully enjoy a longer, healthier life. The 4th limb of yoga is pranayama, where we learn vital energy/ breath (prana) extension (ayāma). The breath is our greatest source of energy and we should spend all vital energies wisely. This idea doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice aerobic activity but that we shouldn’t waste our breaths on things that don’t serve us…like anxiety and anger. The breath sustains our lives, our practice, and is our doorway to meditation and ultimately to Samadhi. Consciousness it what happens between thoughts and plans, and I think it might also be lying between our breaths. We should take each breath with a full inhale, slow exhale, and savor the subtle pause at the bottom where the magic happens. As a little reminder, I’m going to add Kurmasana (tortoise pose) and Eka Hasta Bhujasana (elephant’s trunk pose) to my practice. If anyone has an idea for a whale-asana let me know. Michelle Hurley – Our Newest Yoga Teacher!