There are many different forms to practice and to teach asana, or the physical limb of yoga.
I think about what yoga does for me and how it has changed my life. As I pinpoint exact moments of where, when, and how yoga works for me in shifting my awareness to something ‘right-now-and-only-now,’ my answers are rooted in breath and flow.
Here are my top ten reasons conscious breath and flow is life-changing.
10. 100% Breath or Body Awareness, 0% Mind Stuff
This practice is the simplest and most effective way I know to pull awareness away from my thoughts and into something happening now, in my body—like my breath. I can practice this any instant, anywhere, sans mat, and it grounds me into a tangible experience.
9. Immediate, Undeniable, Palpable Connection
When I practice in a space where people around me are synchronistically breathing and moving together, I feel immediate connection. Breath feels more natural and movements feel more effortless when we breathe as one lung and flow as one unit.
8. Increased Awareness and Curiosity
This practice increases my awareness through simple movements linked together, by breath moving body, and body moving breath, making my senses come alive. As I drop into this awareness, I discover something brand new about my practice each time.
7. Conscious Breath Reduces Stress
I notice the sensations that arise when my body stresses: heartbeat, sweat, and tension. The moment I choose breath over freak out, I watch as my body moves toward ease. From ease, I can then choose to practice being with sensation in a more loving way.
6. Drop Judgment and Expectations
This means one can stay in Child’s Pose the entire class. But it’s more for the egos that hijack the energy and say, “I must take the most perfect form of dancer ever seen!” Stop. The only pressure that exists to do or be anything during yoga is that of the mind.
5. Love Thy Self
I nourish my body through this practice. When I breathe and bring awareness to the beauty of grace I create through movement, I feel more in touch with my physical body. I don’t always love my body, but this practice gives me plenty of moments to do so.
4. This Is What It Feels Like to Be Alive
This practice is a wake up call for life. Sensations are beautiful reminders that because I’m alive, I can choose how to react. I might even choose to stay with it. And whoa, because I’m alive I can consciously control the length of and space between each breath.
3. Pure Patience
I love that moment when we move, move, move…HOLD. The mind starts firing daggers about sensations and amount of time lapsed! With nowhere to go and nothing to do, our biggest fears arise. Yet, what a privilege to have ZERO pressure to do anything but stay still.
2. Simple Is Beautiful
The simplicity of this practice humbles me. It has so little to do with fancy postures and so much to do with getting right to the point of all the above. My mind appreciates this work to cut through its layers and crack into the center where I may be empty and clear.
1. Stimulus | SPACE | Response
When we hold space in between breaths or in a long hold with silence, we see our choices so clearly: the choice to stay without needing to do, fix, or change a thing, the choice to pause and ask, “Will whatever I say or do be truly helpful?” Here—in this space—lies our yoga.
This conscious practice of breath and flow gives us tools to live a better life so we don’t miss a single beat.