One of the more common directions you'll hear in a yoga class (or on a yoga DVD) is breathe. Well, since breathing is an automatic function, this shouldn't be hard, right? If you've ever practiced yoga, I think you know that the answer to that question isn't all the clear cut.
For years I either held my breath or tried too hard to control my breathing (can anyone say "way too loud Ujjayi?!?!"). I remember being in an overheated room in which I had practiced for over an hour and thinking "you've gotta be kidding me" when the teacher heading the class intoned "BREATHE" quite loudly. Then my practice changed and I discovered the joy of movement to breath. When the movement supports the breath and vice versa, it's fairly easy to keep track of your breathing during your yoga practice.
Now breath has become something more than something I focus on during my yoga practice. It's now my ultra-reliable barometer. If I'm agitated or excited or anxious or efforting too much in my yoga practice, I can feel it in my breathing. My head might be saying that all is well, but the breath doesn't lie (and, if one believes Shakira, the hips don't lie either). I've come to appreciate the energizing effects of deep inhales, the relaxing effects of slow exhales, the bonding affects of synchronized inhales and exhales (I highly recommend syncing your breathing with your partner when simply sitting next to each other). I have my yoga practice to thank for teaching me the power of the breath.
If you'd like to explore the power of universal breath, I recommend visiting DoAsOne.com's Universal Breathing Room February 4, 5, and 6th to celebrate the occasion of The Dalai Lama initiating the teachings of The Buddha Maitreya. The intention of these teachings is to bring abundance and joy to all of humanity. This historic event is being filmed and the filmmakers are collaborating with DoAsOne throughout the three days. Visit The Universal Breathing Room anytime from Friday through Sunday and spend some time breathing in sync with others around the world.
If you've tried yoga or meditation or pranayama, you already know the power of the breath. Now imagine it multiplied by thousands all over the globe. The possibilities are endless.