Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. -Thich Nhat Hanh
As Imentioned on Friday, slow, deep exhalations have been the focus during all of my classes this week. The instructions were quite simple but not everyone found them easy to do. When I said, "Take a deep breath", some people inspired deep and filled their lungs to capacity within two or three seconds. Others took a deep, short inhaling breath followed by a forceful, quick exhaling breath.
In an effort to illustrate what I consider to be a deep breath, I put my hands together (left hand-palm down, right hand-palm up) and held them out in front of me with my elbows out to the side. When I inhaled, I let my hands separate in sync with my breath and brought them together as I exhaled, slowly. My breaths were not as long as those demonstrated by B.K.S. Iyengar (You Tube, 02:41), not even close, yet many felt them to be much longer than their full breaths.
During the course of arestorative class, folks were able to experience deep breathing with their chests expanded, as well as while bending forward with their foreheads resting on a solid surface. Postures were modified for each of my classes. In Tuesday's Mother Sequence class, we practically doubled the length of the sequence by paying such close attention to lengthening our breaths. In all other classes, I asked them to hold the restorative poses for 24 breaths. As the not-so-innocent-bystander, the results to me were well, breath-taking!
I am blessed with the most receptive, trusting and honest group of yoga students. Each person was responsible for the length of time they spent in each pose and they of course knew, that the winner was not the first one to finish. Also, the last one up was often the one who fell asleep!
What we did receive was greater insight into our abilities to focus, breathe deep and relax. We could all use more practice. The "three soft oms" at the end of class were definitely much longer and we spent 90 minutes doing something positive about our air quality. No one ranted about the vog, they were just focused on 24 slow breaths with exhalations that reminded them....to relax.