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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are You Breathing?

Are You Breathing?

No – really, are you breathing? Well, I certainly hope so. You wouldn’t be reading too much further into this post if you were not.

But seriously; are you truly breathing?? A breath that keeps you nourished, oxygenated and healthy? Many people do not understand the importance of breath.

Approaching it from the science side, there are many systems in the body that are totally dependent on the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the body. If the body’s level of oxygen drops to a certain level, systems begin to shut down; kinda like an emergency mode, where non-essential systems (like metabolism) slow or shut down.

Moving along at the speed of LIFE, we often find ourselves in this constant fight-or-flight mode that leaves our bodies starved for oxygen. From the yogic perspective, this also limits your intake and quality of prana or lifeforce. Breathing is one of the major ways to bring in and move this lifeforce. (Note for the yogis: sometimes people think that the term “pranayama”in yoga means simply breathing techniques, even though the breath is only one of the many ways to move prana – other pranayama techniques include mantra and yantra – anything that controls {yama} lifeforce {prana}).

You could say that the way you breathe your breath is how you live your life.

Studying the breath has become a major portion of my practice, having recently picked back up my restorative breathwork apprenticeship with Kathleen Barratt of Barratt Breathworks. Check out her site at

When discussing the breath and any conscious, cultivated breaths, I always like to quote Goswami Kriyanandaji – “[the breath] is like a sharp knife -- used precisely, it is very effective; but if you wave it around, someone is going to get hurt.” Breathwork practices are extremely powerful.

The Barratt Breathworks model approaches the breath in a simple but potent way that helps to dismantle ineffective breathing patterns and restore the natural adaptability of the breath. It helps you to figure out where in your body your breath moves; or doesn’t. It unites breathwork, mindfulness and energy flow in a way that brings you more in tune with yourself. And, eventually, opens you up to permitting the natural intelligence of your breath to move through your body in a way that brings healing, health, and a deep spiritual awareness.

The breath can heal you; open you; nurture you; connect you back to spirit. Really.

Whether you are an experienced yogi with a regular pranayama practice, or just someone who is ready to be more open to this life, Kathleen is facilitating a Restorative Breathwork Weekend at Uttara in January, details below. I’ll be there assisting for my apprenticeship. If you are interested, register soon, space is limited.

And really; it’s about time you started to truly LIVE; and to truly BREATHE . . . . .

Saturday, January 7 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm
Sunday, January 8 from Noon to 4:00 pm

Barratt Breathworks Restorative Breathwork Weekend --
Combines Hatha Yoga, Breathwork and Meditation; Facilitated By Kathleen Barratt. This program is tailored both for the beginner as well as the experienced student of Restorative Breathwork. Emphasis on exploring the interrelationship between breath and energy and its dynamic influence on consciousness as well as physical health and well-being.

Dynamics are specially designed for small groups to provide one on one attention from Kathleen. Fee $125. For more information please call 540-966-6703 or visit Pre-register by December 30; continuing education credits are granted in accordance with Yoga Alliance.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Do You Wish To Attain Through Yoga?

We have an intake form at the Studio; you know, asking for
name, address, email; medical complications; blah, blah, blah.

On that form we also ask this question: What do you wish to attain through yoga?

This is because of one of my primary teachers, Goswami Kriyananda. Throughout my training, he continually emphasized that we are to teach what the students want to learn; not our own little agenda; not what we think people need.
What do the students want? What information do they seek?

So, I was thinking about this, because I’ve been thinking a lot about intention – about the linking of thought/action/spirit – which is how you make anything, ANYTHING actually happen in your life.

What do our students want?
Oh, the majority of intake forms say things like “strength,” “flexibility,” “toning,” “stretching.” But there are some really interesting answers lurking about in the file drawer, and I thought I’d share my favorites.
And the interesting thing is – all these things – ALL THESE THINGS, yoga can bring you; it delivers. All you ever have to do is this: PRACTICE.

meditation and flexibility

it’s part of my spiritual practice


focus, calm, openness, fire

tone and stretch

not sure

relax, man

time with my wife

internal space


quiet mind


physical and personal growth

pain free

that could take a long time . . . .

inner peace and badass flexibility

a better understanding of self

better breathing

a happy spouse

inner strength



love and light

open hips

weight management

community of like-minded individuals


help for my back

a positive experience

re-educating my body


deep relaxation and spiritual advancement


eternal youth!

to feel better physically, mentally


peace, connection, oneness, movement


peace and light


learn to be more calm


better health

improve my practice



core strength

wife happy


opening up and letting go of stress


hmmm . . . there’s many things

mind yoked to body

So . . . if you read this far (and I hope you did . . . ) what is it that YOU seek?
As Kriyanandaji says . . . "Traveler in time . . . this is not your final resting place, what is it that you seek here?"
Uttara Yoga Studio, LLC. Blog design by Jessica Hedrick