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For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit Proverb
The first time I went to a yoga class, I was curious about this strange practice that made people contort in all sorts of awkward positions. I was in university and always keen to try something new, especially if the price was right, which it was, being offered at a discount to students.
My teacher looked just like I expected; older, long white hair, flowy shirt and loose thai-style pants. I was eager to get into moving positions and get all bendy; she instead started talking about connecting, breathing, being present.
I felt like I had just walked into a new-age boutique. But as the class progressed, and we breathed and tried to quiet our minds and be present, I ended up leaving, feeling utterly revitalized and happily at peace with myself. I was hooked.
Not A Cult
I attended all the classes in the series, then signed up for the next series; my friends thought I was going into some kind of obscure cult. But I couldn’t help and feel so deeply relaxed and, somehow, more connected to a mysterious energy that left me replenished and more aware of a wider, more spiritual connection with my surroundings, the people, the earth.
The seemingly insignificant and natural act of breathing started to take an altogether different meaning. The constant, mindful flow of air, in and out of my body, grounded me, cleared my mind of trivial distractions, allowed me to be fully present and tap into a deeper, more ancient source of energy within me.
The breath, with its rhythm, its openness and its cleansing power gradually started to have effects outside of the classroom; I was more calm and less annoyed by the trivialities of the world; I was able to respond with detachment and compassion to life’s irritations and changes. I wanted to establish more meaningful connections with the people around me, and find a purpose that would satisfy my soul.
I kept practicing yoga at random times at home and when I was travel across Canada, Hamilton, Toronto, Vancouver or Victoria or at home, but I soon realized that a pattern was emerging: whenever I felt lost or overwhelmed by life’s events, I would turn to yoga and reconnect with my breath, my inner peace, and find a strength and calmness that would allow me to face the challenges with a clearer, deeper understanding and help me take the best decisions.
To this day, yoga to me is still a place where I can reconnect to my inner peace, and cleanse my mind and body from stresses and anxieties through the grounding power of breathing. It’s where I reunite with the deeper rhythms of my body and free myself from the world’s superficial concerns. To me, yoga is breath, and breath is yoga, creating a virtuous circle of oneness between the physical and spiritual aspects of this ancient practice.