My passion as a teacher of asana and yoga in general, is the breath. This has not changed in all of the years I’ve been teaching despite the many incarnations my style has taken. Maybe it comes from my 16 years spent as a professional musician and teacher of singing. I’ve loved the mechanics of breath and the usefulness of breath and the sheer thrill of it for many years now. I don’t sing anymore. A fact that sometimes brings me great sadness… but I still remember the exhilaration of performing. taking that big gulp of air, feeling the pressure in my rib cage, the power of it as I unleashed that glorious high note through a wide, vulnerable throat and watched, among the listeners, the shoulders melt, the eyes widen. Few things in my life can compare to those moments in terms of pure self fulfillment.
As a teacher of asana I’ve seen people transform, almost before my eyes with the application of proper breathing technique. I always tell my teacher trainees that pranayama is literally changing ones blood chemistry. It doesn’t get much more powerful than that. With regard to the use of breath in an asana practice I believe that you can’t experience the true limitlessness of practice until you’ve applied the breath in a systematic way, that someday becomes habit. I find that knowing the anatomy of the breath, the nuts and bolts, is integral to using it well.
I believe that we have a breathing epidemic in our culture. Most people, I would say 90%, are not breathing in a way that is in line with their anatomy. We call it paradoxical or reverse breathing in the singing community, though I am aware that some in the yoga community would argue that this is actually the case; Leslie Kaminoff for one, though that was less of an argument and more me nodding in agreement…. I will say though that the guy is brilliant and has quite a bit more experience with anatomy than me, by like a million. However, my understanding of the physiology and subtle anatomy of the body coupled with my personal and teaching experience leads me to the conclusion that poor breathing habits are prevalent and are causing emotional and health crises for many of us. We are breathing in opposition to our anatomy, the physics of the body and the energetic map that tantra/yoga has provided for us and that my yoga friends, is no good. In Hatha yoga we know that the breath has many applications but so so many yogis still do not understand how to customize it for various purposes or to access the breath properly for that matter.
I often have the opportunity to collaborate with my good friend and colleague, Annie. Teaching with her IS like breathing, so effortless. We understand each others’ strengths and weaknesses, we have admiration and respect for each other, we know each others’ practices and habits, both from teaching together and being keen studies of people who have bodies. She and I will offer a special in-depth workshop based on just this topic on April 19 at Sound Method Yoga in Omaha, NE called Where the Magic Happens. As always we will combine our strengths to offer an experience that may well transform your practice. We blend asana, kriya, pranayama and discussion to leave no stone unturned in your practice.
It’s not JUST about ujayii pranayama, or how to use your breath in asana practice. Learning or relearning how to breathe in accordance with your physical and energetic nature is a transferrable skill that can empower you or bring you peace or soothe you in all areas of life. I find myself offering more and more private sessions to people who have anxiety and understand intuitively that their breathing is either not helping them, or possibly causing problems. I’ve worked with multiple individuals who literally didn’t know how to exhale and suffered greatly as a result from poor cognition, depression and even voice issues. The problems are varied, but the solutions are fairly straight forward, once the dysfunction has been determined. Working with the subtle energies in the body however is often a process of relearning that requires a student who is patient and open to experimentation.
If your interest is peaked join Annie and I on April 19 for Where the Magic Happens, or get in touch with me and schedule a session.