Finding Aliveness in Our Breath (Yoga Challenge: Day 19)

Have you ever noticed the moment at the end of an exhale before you inhale again?

Today our instructor brought our attention to not only our breath, but the space between breaths. For most of the day, we don’t think about our breathing. It just happens, like blinking and swallowing. But, our breathing is our lifeline – a sure sign that all vital signs are alive and well. Have you ever stopped to think about what this means?

Without the next inhale, we are done. Dead. Kaput.

The line between this life and the next one is as delicate as that.

In yoga, we stop to focus on our breathing and by doing so, we acknowledge our own, mortal existence. Try it: exhale all your breath and in the space at the bottom of your breath, focus on the few moments that you can get away without inhaling. Eventually you will have to breathe in again, but hang out in that space between the exhale and the inhale. What happens?

I find I become completely focused on my presence, my “aliveness” in those very moments. And I must be fully present in order to resist the body’s natural urge to breathe in again.

How might you live your life differently if you were more aware of how miraculous it is that you’re alive in the first place? How would this affect your practise?

Lesson from Day 19

With Ujjayi breathing, we are voluntarily controlling our breath, matching our in-breath with the out-breath. But there is still that space at the bottom and top of each breath, like the silence and nothingness between musical notes in a melody. In those short few moments we can find some stillness. And if we are really moving with our breath, we can find new power with every inhale.

Imagine how your practise will change if you consider that each breath in brings you this expansive power.


I’d love to hear what you have to say, what you’ve gotten out of these posts, and for those of you doing the yoga challenge as well, how the challenge is going for you! Feel free to comment below, post a comment on Facebook, send me a message through Twitter or send me an email.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

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