Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Class #5: Presence

This morning I looked at my shoes and I honestly had no clue which pair I was going to wear. I have 43 pairs of shoes, and still, I had no clue. Finally after ten or so minutes of deliberation, I settled on my suede Cole Haans. They are familiar and easy, but they were oh so uncomfortable today, I couldn't wait to get home, peel them off and soak my feet.

Similar to how you can tell my mood by the shoes I wear, breath in yoga acts as a gauge and a moving force, carrying one through their asanas.

Back in December and January, people would tell to me that I seemed calm for all that was going on, I would say, "Well, I've been doing a lot of yoga breathing." Without knowing it, I wasn't that far off - breathing was a way for me to exercise some control. Prana, literally translated as life/breath, is the external manifestation of life; Pranayama is control of prana. In my practice, my breath is my marker. If I'm not breathing, I'm straining and pushing past where I should be. You breathe into a pose to move deeper, to open up the spaces that are tight, deepening your existence and focus on the present.

Breathing is just one of those things we do without thought. When we monitor our breathing, we have the opportunity to pause, assess, and savor life.

We started the back bending series this last class. Physically, the chest is opened and exposed, just as a foot in the graceful arch created by a Manolo Blahnik shoe. Philosophically, we bend into the past, honoring all that we have experienced, bringing us to our present. Breath acts as the bridge linking past and present and helping us step forward, into a new present.

Even though I feel a little as though I settled on my Cole Haans, looking at my closet, there are no other shoes I would have rather worn today.

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