In the Krishnamacharaya tradition of hatha yoga practice, the fundamental foundation of practice is the breath, everything else is built around this.
The breath initiates asana (physical movement and posture,) , it leads to pratyahara(sense withdrawal), to Dharana (concentration),to Dhyana (meditation), to yoga.
Quite often people remark that until they undertake a yoga practice they will have never considered or even examined their breath. This is a revelation for them and should be for us all, as the breath is such a central part of our being, of our life processes. It is our most intimate connection with the rest of life beyond our body and mind. Each moment this breath animates us, it brings in a new breath, it releases the old.
It is one of an immeasurable number of processes that supports us, moment after moment. Think of all the functions of the human body, of the world around us, nature, society, all these things, continuing due to their own innate, intelligence that leads them to occur, apparently effortlessly. This can be examined in so many ways, that nurturing essence, within which a seed grows into a mighty tree, a child into an adult, a human life unfolding, weather patterns, animal, insect and plant life,, universes expanding and contracting.
We can sit as an observer and witness and watch all this occurring in us, without us having to do anything. The most useful contribution we can make is to keep the body open to the breath and all these processes. Ayurveda, Yoga’s sister science recognises the intricacy and complexity of the bodies many systems, digestive, eliminative etc, and as opposed to suggesting even the slightest modification to this, instead indicates that for health if we can ensure, right diet, and exercise, then these systems will operate perfectly well on their own. It’s easy to see how a regular or daily practice of Yoga asanas and pranayama can be central to the preservation of physical health.
A lot of the anxiety and stress that we encounter come from our what ifs, what if this happens, or that happens. Many of these things are beyond our control. But perhaps if we look back we can see that life’s intelligence has carried, nourished and nurtured us from childhood to this point . Therefore, perhaps we can allow ourselves to trust that these same processes will continue to support us. So when the mind stills, we can maybe recognise the amazing movement of life around and in us, being open to the breath, the new in breath, letting go of the old and allowing ourselves to be part of life’s unfoldment, part of its intelligence. It is the practice of meditation in our Yoga practice that allows a direct perception of this.
So, even now feel the support of the earth beneath your body, the support of the bodies activities, of the rest of nature and life around you and marvel at and enjoy the movement of each breath.