Waiting to exhale

“The process of dying, naturally, involves letting go. During full-body relaxation in yoga, called corpse pose, letting go is voluntary.”

yoga_class1GUEST COLUMN: HEATHER GREAVES — Yoga teaches us to journey inside and become an observer, showing us how to be relaxed yet alert.   Through yoga we practice the art of letting go.

The word YOGA can conjure images of twisted poses and unattainable contortions while standing on one’s head. Yet, whether the pose is simple or complex, the key to unlocking the secret of yoga lies in breathing.

How we breathe affects us on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. With practice, it is truly amazing that even when there is a challenge on one or more of these levels, the body itself continues to breathe quietly.

Recently, a friend shared that her adult daughter, while in intensive care, desperately tried to attract the nurse’s attention. The nurse arrived and inquired how she could help. The daughter replied, ‘I just want you to breathe with me.’

yoga3To be in touch with this vital physiological process is to increase one’s awareness of life and living. We can increase awareness not only for ourselves, but also for others. And at a crucial time, we can be there for another, breathing with them, calming their mind and body, with or without words.

The process of dying naturally involves letting go gradually and involuntarily. During full-body relaxation in yoga, called corpse pose, letting go is voluntary. Awareness of the environment and the body is withdrawn as consciousness is moved from the senses, to the sensations of the body, to the breath, and to the mind. There, in the mind, we may find fears, hopes, desires and regrets, and in time we learn to let these come and go. We remain undisturbed as we observe the mind.

And what is there to witness beyond the mind? Beyond the mind we experience resting in our own nature.

Yoga poses take out the tension in the body, massage internal organs, increase flexibility, develop strength and balance, as well as enhance the function of the systems in the body. When we bring an attitude of exploration to the poses — a “let’s see what’s there” attitude — we leave no room for tension caused by expectation and fear. Then we can enjoy yoga, as we learn the art of letting go.

Heather Greaves promotes healthy living, sharing yoga and meditation with groups and individuals. She is a certified yoga therapist and polarity therapist. Heather can be reached at info@yogatogo.com. Visit her site at Body Therapies: Yoga Training Inc.

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3 Responses to “Waiting to exhale”

  1. Indeed, conscious breath is holy and therefore holistic. The “I am” is with you in your conscious attention to the breath. Thank you.

  2. Heather, it is amazing how often those of us who seek — and seek to be “spiritual” — can collapse out of breath . . . The precise component of being that feeds these minds and bodies :)

  3. Nice article. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been practicing yoga for more than a dozen years. It’s part of my daily life.