I thought long and hard over what to do about my thoughts as a yoga instructor; should I write a blog or not? Welp….here we are so I decided to go for it. Before I became a yoga instructor I was just me. Don’t get me wrong I’m still myself however I think I’m a little changed, ok…honestly a lot changed. Besides being able to do some really dope things with my body from the practice of the asanas (poses) I feel different. Physically I feel stronger, more balanced and more aware; emotionally I feel capable and mentally I feel confident.
We move so much towards the practice of the poses because our bodies is what we work in every day, meaning we feel our choices and restrictions our injuries most presently in our bodies but the body is nothing without the breath. My journey to yoga began less from a physical aspect and more of needing a space to believe I was worth
more in life than the roles I played. As I practiced in my teacher training the breath became the central foundation of all my poses and is the anchor to my love for myself.
“…but I didn’t know how to clear my own path in my own body for my own mind”
I went from a brown girl bending to a brown girl breathing and the calm I get from clearing a path for my breath is beyond beautiful. Breath awareness or pranayama practice is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. As I was trained in Shambhava Yoga I will share with you my foundation in the 8 limbs below:
- Yama – our attitudes towards ourselves
- Niyama – our attitudes towards the environment
- Asana – poses practiced in yoga
- Pranayama – regulation of the breath
- Pratyahara – restraint of our senses
- Dharna – concentration
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – merging with the Self
When I first began breathing (not 2/2/81 but shout out to all the Aquarians and 80’s babies!) I thought to myself how could I not have a relationship with my breath? I was raised an athlete, I’m a master at alternate breathing as a competitive swimmer, I was a lifeguard and know how to resuscitate someone, I know how to clear a foreign object from a babies throat even…..but I didn’t know how to clear my own path in my own body for my own mind. My mind was blown.
Here I was 34 years old and had been thinking I knew all there was to know about breathing and my lesson had literally begun on an overpriced teal yoga mat surrounded by a group of people who were just as unfamiliar to me as my own breath. It was liberating to accept that my interpretation of yoga was so very small, I was excited to learn what else this practice has to gift me so that I can be a better version of myself.
Most days I can’t live without navel breath, I seem to feel better if my movements are supported by my breath and I witness a difference in each of my students when they begin to feel in their own bodies a clearer path. One of my lead teachers Bhakti would say “the breath is a barometer for the mind” and no truer words have ever been spoken. In all of my emotional states I practice breathing so that I can think clearly in anger, in sadness its not say that I always get it right but I am always grateful to learn a little more about how to be a better brown girl breathing.