Over the past year or so, my teacher has added some challenging poses to my yoga practice. It seems that at just the moment when I start to feel all pleased with myself about "what I can do", my teacher adds another layer of depth to my practice! ...which is as it should be and one of the many reasons I continue to practice with him. :)
Slowly over the past few weeks though, it has become very apparent to me that in the the places where I am challenged, I rush the breath. Suddenly 5 breaths sounds more like 3 breaths! So, my new work: take 5 full complete breaths in the intense, challenging poses and transitions.
It has made me wonder, if I'm rushing through the places in my yoga practice that are uncomfortable, then what else in life am I rushing through...and maybe missing out on due to discomfort?
Ashtanga yoga practice really is a breathing practice. The physical postures have multiple purposes in the practice, but I really think one of the primary reasons for the poses is to challenge the breath. Lengthening the breath and really working for a steady breath in challenging postures forces me to "lean into" the intense poses....and therein lies the work that brings about transformation in practice!