Our Natural Breath

By Rodney Yee, April, 2008

“He who binds the breath, binds the mind” – Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

We spend years in pranayama trying to free up the breath. It is slippery business. So many times we end up with a manipulated breath from concepts given to us by teachers, books, videos, and countless other influences. This manipulated breath often just covers up our habitual breath, which is a deeply ingrained breath pattern that has been imprinted off our ancestors. What is the breath inside the breath inside the breath? How in our yogic studies are we going to carefully dig out this priceless treasure?

We start this archeological dig by freeing up the habitual tension in the gross body in our asana practice. The closer we can hover around our skeletal center the more the muscular body can stay fluid.

Simultaneously, in asana, we release tension in our organs through squeezing and releasing and through mindful relaxation in restorative poses. In meditation, we come to mental and emotional states of emptiness and states of non-identification.

These physical, mental and emotional states of fluidity set up the proper foundation for a natural breath. As we slowly and carefully make our way through this complex labyrinth of tension, identification, desire, aversion and illusion, we can get glimpses of a free breath. This free breath is a breath that permeates easily throughout our entire being. It is a breath that sets the rhythm for our entire dance of life. It is a breath that intrinsically ties us to our environment. Free your breath and you will free your mind.

Rodney Yee

Rodney is a world-renowned yoga teacher who started practicing yoga in 1980. He has been in over thirty yoga videos, and is the author of two books, including Moving Toward Balance. Along with his wife, Colleen Saidman Yee, he is the co-director of Heath and Wellness Initiative of the Urban Zen Foundation, Donna Karan’s project to change the healthcare paradigm to include complementary healthcare practices. He has been teaching at Colleen's studio, Yoga Shanti Sag Harbor, for several years, and is one of the founding members of Yoga Shanti New York.

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