The Breath is Life

Yoga teachers who use themes in their classes, often spend a lot of time reflecting on what it is they wish to convey to their students in the New Year - because in many ways - it can set the tone for the rest of the year.

We often start a new session shortly after the beginning of the year. At this time, many of us are knee deep in setting intentions or resolutions for the coming year. Last year I set three of them for myself. They were actually more like attributes or virtues I wished to embody, and I am pleased to say that I was able to keep these intentions.

Last week, on one of my walks, I reflected on what I wanted to share with my students who would soon be returning. Many of them have been with me for years, so there is a real challenge to say something fresh, that is both different and inspirational at the same time. My students are also lovely and dear friends, so I think of this little group that faithful returns to my home studio (with some taking a break or hiatus every now and then) as a community where we all hold each other up and support one another - and over the years we have done just that - through separation, divorce, death, cancer, and challenges - that have been physical, emotional, and spiritual.

I had entertained different ideas for 2013, and then as I was nearing the end of my walk on one particular day last week, all of a sudden, this line from the movie "Schindler's List" came to mind:

"The List is life!"

The list contained the names of all of those who would be saved from dying in the Holocaust - due to one man's attempt to save as many souls as possible. At the end of the movie, you see the descendants of these survivors gathered at Schindler's grave, a truly moving moment indeed. In that moment, you cannot deny the impact of that list, for it was truly a list that gave the gift of life.

Somehow, this idea that the list is life - morphed into the notion - that the breath is life. We cannot go without the breath for very long. We can go so long without food and drink - but not the breath.

Over the break, I reconnected with my yoga practice in a way that took me back to my early years practicing, nearly two decades ago. I revisted the same, simple, basic poses, doing each one three times, and holding each side for three - long, deep, and slow breaths nourishing every cell in my body and every fiber in my being...

"The breath is life!"

Yes, the breath is life... And slowly, as the break wore on, I felt places within me awaken that had gone dormant after a year that I do not care to dwell on any longer or repeat again...

I shared this practice with my class this morning. We worked slowly and deliberately, tasting the breath, and tasting life as well. Each and every moment in our lives offers us the opportunity to begin again, and again and again - truly, with every breath we take - we come back to the present, and in tasting the breath - we taste life - which is the gift that was given with the list presented to Schindler.

In this New Year, my goals are very simple: To reconnect more consciously with the breath - to taste the breath - and in doing so - taste life. And thus, to live more deeply and more fully and more richly. Taste and see the goodness of the breath! And embody the goodness of life!


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