Yoga in Manitowoc, Wisconsin


Originally I was going to write on observations produced from several meditations that have been completed since reading the book The Posture of Meditation by Will Johnson. In a broader sense, of course, it will be an accumulation of everything I have learned and experienced since the day I took that first breath outside of my mother’s womb. A Sankrit proverb describes the power of breath in the saying “For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.”

I found myself not breathing and in an unusual position a few days back. My mind, which is normally quite or at the very least softly offers me great formulas for living life, was chaotic and loud. The thoughts that were being generated felt insane, uncontrollable. The pain at the top of my head was so great and un-ending, I thought it was going to literally pop my head right off, just like when a child pops off the tops of dandelions in the summer.

Logically I knew that all the medication from surgery, combined with a new medicine that the doctors had put me on, was causing this pandemonium. I noticed my face was hot and sweaty. Physically I was pacing back and forth pulling at my hair. My practice of sitting quietly upon awakening was all but forgotten, and then for one small moment when I felt the fear of losing control and the panic that ensued rise to the very top, I recognized for one small millisecond that I had no breath at all. With that knowledge I felt my body soften.

That moment gave me the doorway to remember my breath. I took Will Johnson in his book The Posture of Meditation up on his offer of allowing me to lie on my back instead of sitting in a meditating posture and remembered his words “Relaxation occurs through allowance, a literal giving in to forces that are much more powerful than you”

Laying down, noticing rigidness in the space between the ribs, clenching of the jaw, the hands and the toes, I take a breath in. Johnson points out “By locking our body into patterns of tension and rigidity, we become numb to our sensations and feelings. We restrict the full flow and natural expression of our breath.”

My full attention was on the breath. Noticing the inflow and outflow of energy. Molecule by molecule coming in through my nose, back down through my throat, imagining the breath reaching to the very tips of my fingers, through the heart and into my belly carrying with it life force to heal. Down through my legs out through my toes and out into the earth. With each breath letting go. Feeling myself softening. Moving my attention to the words of Krishnamacharya , regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is credited with the revival of hatha yoga, “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. “

I continued to stay in that position using Krishnamacharya words as a mantra. Every once and awhile my focus would be averted to a bird that was singing outside the window. I continually nudged myself back to focusing on the breath, as waves of distraction would stroll in with less and less urgency, refocusing breath, remembering Divine connection with God.

Breathing with ease and gentleness. Mind a soft whispering of Love. I stand with more ease, smile on my lips and gratitude in my heart. I look at the clock it is five hours later. The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness.... There's so much to let go of, isn't there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe. ~Rodney Yee, Yoga: The Poetry of the Body