I think about winter solstice - the shortest day of our year - as being our year's hump day. Finally from this day onwards, our days start to get longer and our nights shorter as we move closer towards the shining possibilities of the warmer months. But, sitting back and thinking about a day as getting longer, or a night shorter, serves to remind us that our time here is limited.
With this in mind, it’s time we really start becoming more comfortable with this concept of “is-ness”.…a notion prominent in the teachings of modern philosopher Eckhart Tolle. Tolle suggests we should instead make friends with now and truly enjoy each moment as it passes, rather than wishing your life away by either looking forward to the future or lamenting the past.
In yoga, we work to make friends with now by always coming back to the breath. Our breath helps to anchor us in the moment – because when you’re truly focused on your breath you will find there is no space for that niggling voice inside your head. The good news is…you can’t concentrate on your breathing and think at the same time – it’s physically impossible.
Patanjali’s yoga sutras says: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga” (Book 1:2). It is for this simple reason that people tend to get so much out of yoga and why yoga is SO MUCH MORE than being able to get your body into the shape of a pretzel.
I had a student come to my class this week who hadn’t done yoga before. She told me she thought the physical practise was difficult but loved the class all the same because she had the opportunity to turn inward. A rarity in our busy lives now days.
This is what yoga is all about – it has nothing to do with whether your hips touch your heels in Balasana (child’s pose) or whether you can open your arms up in a twisted prayer lunge….and all to do with quietening – even just for one minute out of a 60 practise – that voice inside of our head that we let rule our kingdom.
Eckhart Tolle says “When you are aware of your breath, what you are really aware of is your awareness.”
If you do the math, a person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime… Simply put…our breath is a reminder that we are alive. So you’d better make them count.