The Kuasitaki Upanisad says: ‘It is the breathing spirit alone, the intelligence-self that seizes hold of this body and makes it rise up. This is the all obtaining in the breathing spirit. What is the breathing spirit, that is the intelligence-self. What is intelligence-self, that is the breathing spirit, for together they live in this body and together they go out of it.’
In meditation one soon realizes that one’s thoughts, no matter how persistent, are not as important as they appear to be. While doing yoga, watching the breath quiets the mind and allows one to go deeper into the yoga experience. Quickly though, one soon realizes that they are no longer aware of their breathing and in that moment of realizing they return to the breath again. With that presence of mind we see how easy it is to become lost in our thoughts over and over again.
Our thoughts are how we define ourselves, giving the direction that we constantly yield to in maneuvering ourselves through our world. So much so that when we do yoga the slightest “intrusion” from our breath seems to get in the way of our very important thoughts. As long as one believes that one can figure out the pose by thinking it, (that is how we function in our day-to-day life) there will be continued resistance and frustration.
We figure out everything with our thinking mind. With Hatha Yoga, however, this is not the case. The mind takes the humble position as the observer (being) while surrendering to the subtle, sublime spirit of breath. The breath receives this in-form-ation and our mind witnesses the effortless shift from the physical to the experience of Yoga; the union of the individual self with the Universal Self. Through the transparency of the breath we are guided on an inner journey that is impossible to ignore. One’s mind becomes calm and awareness is sparked from within the body.
As we mature in our practice we begin to notice with objectivity that when we are not focusing on breathing, our mind is no longer in the moment; leaving behind the true essence of Yoga. We see that when breathing challenges thought, in it’s self-importance, thought reacts to the breath as though it is an intruder trying to take over the important role that determines who we are and how we make things happen.
As a beginner, yoga practice starts off as a purely physical exercise wanting to perform the pose correctly, feeling tight areas, experiencing resistance both from the body’s limitations as well as the stubbornness of one’s controlling nature. When one simply breathes the pose instead of thinking the pose, the inner struggle can be eliminated; this promotes an endless fresh approach to practice and a deeper sense of Joy will take place.
Choose a very simple pose. It can be anything, even sitting still in a chair with your back straight. For only 5 breathing cycles, pay attention to those breaths. Watch how your breathing guides you into the sublime mystery of the inner body. You will see what comes up within this simple practice. Trust? Surrender? Letting go? Greater awareness of the state of your body, mind and emotions.