As I continue on my Anatomy journey there are so many amazing things about the physical body that inspire me. Last week, we learned about the bones and joints of the Axial body (including the Spine and Ribcage). We also read a bit about the Anatomical process of the breath. Amazingly, taking air into the lungs is called Inspiration and expelling air from the lungs is called Expiration. The muscles that aid in the inhale are called Inspirational Muscles. This information immediately brought me to a deeper meaning and my inspiration was clear. Inhale for inspiration and Exhale to release (expire) what is not of service to us.
I asked my students to begin to find their own “off the mat” Inspiration (perhaps a person, event or experience) as they “Inspired” (Inhaled) and to begin to release negative thoughts as they “Expired” (Exhaled) and we began to flow through a series of Sun Salutations. As they continued through the warm up using just breath cues from me, they were synchronized in the breath…breathing in collective Inspiration with each Inhale and surrendering Vritti (mind chatter) with each Exhale.
At times we moved very slowly, holding Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 for quite a while and then we moved faster…using one breath per movement transitioning back and forth from Reverse Warrior to Parsvokanasana (side angle). The breath served as an anchor, whether fast or slow and the inspirational muscles of the abdomen kept the breath steady and rhythmic. I often reminded the students to ask themselves if each pose was serving them on their mat. If it wasn’t…I asked them to modify or do something completely different in order to keep the connection with the Inspiration (breath).
We explored a deep balancing practice with versions of Ardha Chandrasana (half moon) and Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana (revolved half moon) and then finding our way into Half Hanuman and full Hanumanasana (Split). The breath continued to be our guide, our inspiration, as we balanced and released. With each exhale we felt a little lighter as we continued to expire (let go of) what was not serving us in our bodies and minds.
On the mat and off, it is very difficult to connect to inspiration when we are unhappy or uncomfortable in the present moment. Whether it is letting our ego dictate our physical asana practice or being in an unhappy mind in our lives; if we don’t continue to ask the question; “Is this serving me?” both on our mats and off we may miss opportunities to be inspired by something as simple as “Inspiration” (breath).
As Savasana came, it was time to release the intentional Inspirational and Expirational breath, but I reminded them that this was an important time for Inspiration and Expiration. As they laid still in the body, the mind again had a chance to connect to a person, event or moment that inspired them off the mat or to expire/release an event, a thought or a situation that was not helping them feel Inspired.
As I inhaled, I looked around the room at all the people who had just shared their “Inspiration” with me and I felt Full. And as I exhaled slowly, I felt Light. Full and Light at the same time…Full of Inspiration and Light from my Expiration. What an amazing journey it is. Namaste.