Rosen Richard - The Yoga of breath

Author : Rosen Richard
Title : The Yoga of breath
Year : 2011

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Foreword. A cool breeze on the sweat of your brow on a hot summer day - that’s how I feel every morning when I take my first sips of conscious air. At this point it takes very little time for this feeling to drop me into a place of delight and wonder. When did these observations of my breath become such a consoling friend? For as I tell my students and friends, it is my pranayama practice, not my asana or meditation practice, that is most precious to me. Every day for the last fifteen years, I have started my day with pranayama. I reserve time for my pranayama practice in the morning no matter where I am or what I’m doing - whether I’m on an airplane or my kids are running in and out of the room - to completely detach from my surroundings and go inward. I look forward to it more than I look forward to a good night’s sleep. It is both a great solace and a wonderful way to understand who I am today before I enter into relationship with the outside world. Can I recall the first time I folded a bolster and lay down under the meticulous instructions of my yoga teacher? I was wondering why the teacher was being so fussy. I was wondering why the blanket had to be so neat and my body so symmetrical. I felt as if I were being called to some secret order and blindfolded as I was being led to the sanctuary. And when I actually began going into the realm of the breath, my mind didn’t have the steadiness that was required to notice any of the subtleties of my breath. But I still had miraculous effects now and again, which were enough to lead me on. I remember ending up in some states of mind of ethereal peace and states of my body of infinite space that seemed as if they were from a different galaxy. Then one day my pranayama teacher looked me in the eyes and said - not with sternness but in a matter-of-fact tone - “Either take this practice on daily or let it go.” So at that point I began my daily practice of pranayama, due partly to my trust of my teacher and partly to a personal intuition that told me this was a vital practice for me. With each ensuing year my fondness of the practice has deepened because it is so enticing to be led by my breath instead of my mind, for at least part of my day. And because I found pranayama so useful for my own daily life, I began to teach it weekly at my studio, wanting to share this practice with my students and colleagues. All that time, right next to me, day after day, my friend Richard Rosen was also wrestling with this practice. During those early days we were commuting back and forth to yoga class, then having lunch together and discussing asana, pranayama, and everything else under the sun. For both of us the asana practice was extremely difficult. We were both very tight and emotionally frustrated with this tightness. We practiced two or three times a week together, devising ways to penetrate our thick, tight, immovable bodies. We stepped on each other, pushed each other, and joked about our difficulties. Richard was as much in love with the practice as I was, and just as tenacious. However, our guylike approach to the asanas was beginning to crack from our constant work trying to uncover the subtleties of our breath. We would lie down next to each other - one of us invariably falling asleep - trying to adhere our minds to our breath. And although I could never really know all the feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations that he experienced, somehow I knew we were both absorbing the same divine fragrance. ...

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