Yoga is the practice of going in two directions at once: to yoke, front and back, up and down, and pretty much any other opposites you can think of.
I like this Balancing Breath Exercise. It works way longer than the 60 seconds I do it throughout the day, to put me in a space where my awareness can include the “both” of pretty much anything.
At first, we work with the inhale and exhale as separate actions to create lots of space upward and downward.
Then, we start to see how they can become part of each other, helping to keep our awareness expansive instead of hyper-focused.
Try this, breathing through the nose as usual:
Balancing Breath Exercise
As you inhale, lift your heart and rest your shoulders back; notice the inhale is a natural little invigorating back bend.
As you exhale, expand your back ribs back and settle your hips down; notice the exhale is a natural little calming forward bend.
Inhale and exhale focusing on these actions separately a few times.
Now, begin to meld the actions together.
As you inhale and lift your heart, keep reaching downward through your hips.
As you exhale and relax your hips down, keep expanding your heart upward and relaxing shoulders back.
Feel the balance in your body. Feel how that balance affects your mind and emotions.
Keep going. Feel the natural inclination of each inhale, plus its opposite. Feel the action of the exhale, and include its complement.
Notice how your awareness must expand to do this. It’s hard. Don’t stop.
Keep breathing this way for 10 breaths. Close your eyes.
I find that when I do this Balancing Breath Exercise, I can experience one of the most empowering, energizing, rewarding gifts of Ma yoga – staying connected to both the masculine and feminine parts of myself:
I can set my sights on a goal, while still listening to the universe for navigational clues that might even take me on a different track.
I can give 100% even as I allow myself to not try too hard.
I can trust in my ability to have everything I need within to create a love and abundance filled life, and also trust the way life sometimes unfolds the most magically when we just let things be.