Breath is Spirit

I use a chime on my iPhone to wake up each morning.

The chime has a message: “Breath is Spirit.” I say “Breath is Spirit” out loud into the early morning light. It is the first thought of each new day as my awareness rises up through the layers between sleep and wakefulness.

I wait until I feel the power of that phrase. I wait until I fully feel Breath as Spirit, before I begin my morning rituals. I do this day, after day, after day, after day.

Funny thing about repetition is that after a while, the meaning of the mantraa dives deeper and deeper. It starts off as a pleasant thought that spirals around, boring its way into the center of personality. It becomes a part of the fabric and furniture of my interior mind scape. Breath as Spirit becomes a living reality. I identify as Spirit, and not as my personality and body identity. That is how the day starts.

I light a candle and raise the flame up. There is a moment when I sense the vast majesty of what is going on. I let go of being the ”Doer” of all actions. The actions happen through the little me. Little me starts to dissolve into Breath.

I focus on the tips of the fingers. The changing finger tip sensations are grounding the attention in the present moment. It’s not a mental exercise.

Attention rides the physical breath. The physical breath awakens the praana, the life force. This is not scientific materialism. It is not just a machine breathing in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. Oxygen is an explanation of science and medicine that assumes material reality is the the one and only fundamental reality, and consciousness is an accident or unexplained “first question.” For the yogis, the one Consiousness was never born and never dies. It always has been and matter arises from Consciousness.

The physical breath is tied to the source of this Consciousness. The physical breath is the outer door that invites me into the inner door of Breath and the Mystery of being alive. As the yogis exclaimed, “Breath pervades the universe.”

“Breath is Spirit” is a useful mantraa that correctly orients little me to the bigger situation. Yogis for millennia have described the different ways of returning to the source of Consciousness. The physical breath has been a primary vehicle for revealing the “Breath,” (with a capital ‘B,’) the movement of Consciousness itself.

Back in Upanishadic times 1500BCE, the yogis asked the Big Questions of Life: “What is the source of this Self Awareness? Where does it come from? What is the source of this sparkly praana shimmering inside my body? Did ‘I’ put it there? If “I” didn’t put it there, then where does it come from? Who am I?”

Asking the right question is invaluable. These are the right questions. Asking the right question is most of the work of inquiry.

Almost everyone, almost all the time, knows who they are, or rather who they think they are: for example, “I am a woman. I am 40 years old. I work at the bank. I have two children who are the love of my life.” We believe we are a person with a name, and a job, and family relations, and maybe a certain religion and a citizen of this nation or that. And all of this is relatively true. “I am this personality. I am a body. I eat food. I am trying to survive. I avoid pain of all kinds. I seek pleasurable mind states, emotions and bodily sensations.” We walk through a conditioned existence full of presuppositions, dragging the past with us, groping around in the dark trying to make sense of it all. We wander through the day with these unexamined assumptions about this person we believe we are and the source from which it arises.

For thousands of years, yoga has not been about poses, but an investigation into the source of Consciousness.

Little me loathes when people say “Breathwork is another tool in your tool box.” Barf. You have no idea what you are talking about. Breath is not a tool! Breath is Spirit in disguise. You have demeaned the ultimate reality and reduced it to a fucking tool in your goddamn toolbox. (Little me speaking.)

If you want to make sense of it all, try starting your day with “Breath is Spirit.” Identify with that. Proceed into your day with a breath practice, especially anuloma viloma. Practice long enough, with devotion and grace, with uninterrupted attention and enthusiasm and the doors of Consciousness will open for you, as it has for countless yogis for thousands of years. And anybody can do it. You can do it.

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Lovely Ujjaayee and Ugly Ujjaayee

Ujjaayee Breath, the "Victorious Breath," "the Ocean Breath," can be lovely and transformative. By restricting the airflow through the glottis, ujjaayee can lead to great insights and awakenings. For best results, ujjaayee needs to be sweet, light and attentive. The ujjaayee breath blooms when it is full of deep listening and is as delicate as a butterfly landing on a twig.

With quiet attention, Ujjaayee can reveal the disturbance in the body and mind. Ujjaayee can also be a co-factor or the cause of disturbance. Ujjaayee is frequently performed in an aggressive, egoic way that is more about dominating the body, than listening.

In 1995, when the vinyasa boom was sweeping across the country, Richard Freeman rang the alarm about a tyrannical and aggressive Darth Vader Breath that was becoming common practice. For over two decades, Leslie Kaminoff, has been teaching about the problems of a pushy, overbearing ujjaayee.

Loud ujjaayee is still a common method taught all over the country. (I am guilty as charged. We teach as we were taught...) We actually thought we were doing a good job teaching it loud. One of the pros of a loud ujjaayee, is that it will create internal heat in the body, which is generally a good thing. But there are other ways to create internal heat, like concentration, drishti, visualization and other ways. The big con of loud ujjaayee is that it goes on autopilot and is actually used to not listen to the moment, by drowning it out. It can become a Type A pushy attack on the body. Loud ujjaayee has become so automatic, many yogis don't even know that they are doing it. Leslie Kaminoff jokes that some yogis, when they go to the doctor’s office, don’t know how to stop being a Sith Lord. Being unaware of ujjaayee and not being able to stop it, are signs that one is no longer listening to the breath.

We listen better when we speak gently, rather than when we yell at each other. We can listen to ujjaayee, the body, breath and mind, so much better with a silent and receptive mind. Ujjaayee breath is more like a feather, rather than a sledgehammer. Ujjaayee is more of a question posed in the present moment rather than a forgone solution to everything.

In the online course, This Next Breath, ujjaayee is purposely de-emphasized. Many people think that surely every online breath course must primarily be about ujjaayee because ujjaayee is what every yoga teacher teaches. Loud Ujjaayee is the first thing they teach! If you are a loud breather, experiment with the other end of the spectrum and be at the threshold of sounding breath. A whole new world of sensitivity in your yoga poses will open up. Stay thirsty for your experience friends.

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Is "Breathwork" the same as Praanaayaama?

In July, I will be leading a This Next Breath Workshop at the Maha Yoga Center in Massachusetts. The owner asks “Is ‘Breathwork’ the same as ‘Praanaayaama?’”

My answer is “No. This Next Breath is a particular praanaayama method. I avoid the word ‘breathwork,’ because of past associations with Rebirthing, Holotropic Breathwork and other hyperventilation techniques.”

“All Yoga is the Same. All Breath practices are the same.”

All yoga is the same,” to the new student. Someone new to yoga has formed an idea of “Yoga” in their head before they get to class. “Yoga is about yoga poses.” This new student is then bewildered when they look at the class schedule of a modern yoga center that offers dozens of types of yoga that bear little relationship to each other.

Breathwork and praanaayaama are the same.” They look the same. They are about the breath. And yet, when it comes to the breath, there are many different types of breath practice with significant differences and results.

“Breathwork” is a vague New Age term over the last 50 years that is mostly associated with Rebirthing and Holotropic Breathwork and decades of workshops that employ different hyperventilation techniques. I avoid the label of “breathwork” because of its strong identification with these practices.

Hyperventilation practices make for a good workshop because they can produce a big thrill of non ordinary states of consciousness, “producing dizziness, tingling in the lips, hands or feet, headache, weakness, fainting and seizures. In extreme cases it may cause carpopedal spasms, a flapping and contraction of the hands and feet.” (wikipedia) Hyperventilation highly activates the sympathetic nervous system, and some people claim they re-experience the trauma of their birth. Hyperventilation constricts the blood vessels and capillaries. You might wrongly assume, as most yoga teachers do, that “the more you breathe, the more oxygen gets to your body.” Actually the opposite is true. The body tightly regulates overbreathing and reacts by constricting blood flow.

Hyperventilation can also lead to panic attacks and a whole host of other undesirable outcomes. In 1993, the intentional community of Findhorn in Scotland had to discontinue Holotropic Breathwork because of many undesirable outcomes. Rebirthing has been banned in Colorado after a girl died of suffocation during a 70 minute session. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1174742/

Try Hyperventilation

With that said, if you are brave, you might like to try a “breathwork” hyperventilation workshop, just so you have your own experience of them. Then you can speak from first hand experience. You might like them. I have done Rebirthing many times and kinda liked the weirdness of the thoughts I had. It is supposed to be a useful psychotherapeutic tool. It is very possible to have a super cool, one time, trippy experience. If you are a person who suffers from panic attacks, if you have a heart condition, weak valves, poor circulation, diabetes, asthma, and other conditions, you should avoid this kind of “Breathwork.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebirthing_(breathwork)

A hyperventilation experience is not a daily practice. It is not something you will do for very long. Hyperventilation techniques, if they have any value, will only be done once in a great while. They will never be a significant part of your life. Whereas, Praanaayaama has the potential to be the most important practice of your life.

Breathwork,” the way this term has been commonly used over the last 50 years, and its long association with Rebirthing and Holotropic Breathwork is very different from Praanaayaama.

Praanaayaama is different

When it comes to Praanaayaama, the influence of the Krishnamacharya lineage predominates worldwide. The Iyengar and Desikachar schools of praanaayaama, are notable examples. Fundamental to the Krishnamacharya method is a strong reliance on “breath ratios.” The yogi manipulates the breath to fit a certain ratio of inhale, exhale and holding the breath to produce different results. This method of praanaayaama is meant to be built over many months very slowing increasing the length of the inhale, exhale and breath retention. The word praanaayaama is most often associated with this style of practice.

If you are willfully holding the breath, it is of the utmost importance to be monitored by an experienced teacher to watch your daily progress over the months. Willfully holding the breath is extremely powerful, produces intense heat and potentially comes with huge problems (embolisms and aneurysms) for the yogi if done incorrectly, aggressively or with too much force. In 2019, It is quite possible that breath ratios are what most praanaayaama teachers still offer in America.

Squeezing the breath to fit a certain breath ratio is a terrible experience. I am not sure anyone likes it. Even Mr Iyengar speaks of how boring praanaayaama is, much like “learning to play the scales on a piano.” Breath ratios may be true, but no one wants to practice them.

My point is that If you don’t like your practice, you are not going to practice for very long. You certainly wont practice with enthusiasm. Practice happy and you will keep practicing. Lengthen your practice time of Anuloma Viloma and you will find it is the key to kingdom of heaven within.

How is This Next Breath different?

TNB is based in the Kashmiri Pashupati lineage of Swami Kripalu. It is common among the Tantric teachers of the north to place all importance on Alternate Nostril Breath. Alternate Nostril Breath is the superior daily practice. The viewpoint of many gurus and This Next Breath is that Anuloma Viloma is the most important technique in the yoga tradition. More on that later. However, for most students I have taught over the last 31 years, Anuloma Viloma is not necessarily a good place to start.

The absolute starting place of praanaayaama is a daily morning practice. There is no other way. You must develop a lifestyle of daily morning practice for this to work, and never miss a day. Eventually, you will practice many times a day. At first, we don’t emphasize alternate nostril breath during the first two months because the door is not open.

It is more important to awaken the love for the breath first. Experience has shown that the best entry point is to focus on long exhales, sound vibration and subtle body practices that are easy, engaging and ignite the student’s love for the breath. A new student can safely follow those types of experiences and come to many insights on their own. It leads to a sense of “growth!” The long exhale with vibration is fun, absorbing and can be learned in a short amount of time with a minimum amount of experience. You will slowly start developing lung capacity. “Practice happy and get your practice going.” That is the first stage. Love the breath and love your daily practice.

The ethos of This Next Breath is to “Revere the Breath as Consciousness itself. Be the Witness of the Breath.” The physical breath is not to be conquered, but listened to. Take the ego out of controlling the physical breath. Steer the breath, but dont be the awful metaphor of Darth Vader breath. Don’t abuse the breath. You don’t know what you are fooling with. Breath is the Great Mystery. Respond sensitively to how the breath is at this very moment. Be happy, joyous and spontaneous. Never stop. Let if flow. Just keep switching sides. Honor the physical breath which is Consciousness in disguise.

Alternate Nostril Breath is introduced near the beginning of the online course, but not emphasized. The time is not ripe yet. The method is to just start the pattern of alternating breath going. At first, the minds of most accomplished hatha yogis will rebel. They will not be able to do even 15 minutes of alternate nostril breath. If they somehow tough it out once or twice, there are too many obstacles to practice. They are unlikely to continue without support. Huge resistance is built into the first stages of alternate nostril breath. Advanced hatha yogais frequently run away from Anuloma Viloma. As one senior hatha yoga teacher said, “I only need two minutes of alternate nostril breath, tops. What is the point after that?”

This Next Breath has problem solved the most common obstacles to Anuloma Viloma. We break the resistance in novel ways. We walk the walk, one daily practice at a time.

The method is more about listening sensitively. The physical breath is just the outside skin of consciousness. Breath and Consciousness are one. The physical breath moves and Consciousness moves. When the obstacles come up, the course guides you through them with a wide variety of techniques that enhance and hold your attention in the present moment. In the Advanced course, most of these methods have never been seen before, and no one, to my knowledge, teaches them. Then again, I don’t get out very much.

In the Advanced Course of This Next Breath, the emphasis shifts to increasing the time of alternate nostril practice. If you alternate breath through the nostrils long enough, the most amazing things will transpire. You will be dumbfounded by the information that spontaneously arises.

Praanaayaama, since Upanishadic times, has been renowned for awakening the innate higher intelligence in all of us. “Praana activates the Prajna.”

The length of practice is significant. There are so many barriers to lengthening the time of alternate nostril breath practice. The tantric yogis of old like it that way. In a certain sense, you have to earn the information that comes by dedication to practice. We start with 5 minutes, then 10, then 15 and slowly over a few months work up to 24 minutes.

24 minutes, ‘One Ghatikaa” of Anuloma Viloma is the first big milestone. It is difficult to stay that focused on your fingertips and nostrils for every breath when you begin. Once the yogi is well established in an easy flowing, daily, uninterrupted 24 minutes of practice of Alternate Nostril Breath for many months, then the next jump to 48 minutes (“One Mahurta”) is not a big deal.

Time Slows Down

The apparent passage of time slows down when the breath slows down. Instead of 12 breaths per minute which is a normal breath rate, lets say you slow your breath down to only 3 breaths per minute ( 1 every 20 seconds, which is doable in a few months) you will find your awareness of time will slow down or even vanish for long periods.

Biologically, I have found this approach is superior. We want biology to lead the way. We don’t want the messed up, willful, ego in charge, banging out a breath ratio without listening deeply to what is happening in the present moment.

Once established in a solid practice, the time will come when there is a distinct “Paranasal Nitric Oxide release.” The body and breath become flooded with Nitric Oxide everyday. Many Chinese acupuncturists call Nitric Oxide, “Chi” itself. it is the physical form of Chi. Once the body is flooded everyday with Nitric Oxide, many changes take place. (See other blog articles on this topic.)

Everything slows down and gets more efficient. Eventually, the breath will go into a “breath suspension,” but the breath is not held willfully. The stopping of the breath is completely natural, effortless and its not a pathology. The breath will slow down to a crawl, 5 breaths per minute, then 3 breaths per minute and then 2 and then 1. The yogi is not forcing the body to do this. The body no longer needs as much breath because the overall efficiency and metabolic demands of the body don’t require more breath because of the saturation of Nitric Oxide as well as the many hormones released from the pituitary. The breath will be suspended of its own accord. The thinking mind and chattering noise will stop. All there is left, is a wordless Presence. The mind becomes transparent and very clear. Meditation takes off at this point.

Everyone who has fully done This Next Breath remarks how afterwards mediation has never been so easy and effortless.

Work with Your Breath First.

If you want to progress in meditation, if you are frustrated with the noise level your mind is putting out during meditation, try doing what the yogis suggest: “Work with Your Breath first.” Praanaayaama before Buddhist Mindfulness or Yogic Meditation.

Classical Yoga of Patanjali progresses from Aasana, to Praanaayaama, then later on Dhyaana, meditation. Change the biology of the body and nervous system before you sit down and try to observe your flickering mind states. it works better that way. When your biology is stabilized, the mind follows. Trying to lead with your mind, like using a thorn to take out a thorn, is a thorny path.

Gautama, the historical buddha, is said to have tried many praanaayaama practices from the teachers of his day. The Buddha rejected them all. It is recorded that the Buddha’s early breath teachers, were teaching a practice that included holding the breath for long periods of time. The Buddha’s assessment of willful long breath holdings is spot on. Frankly, willful long breath holdings are a nightmare. A “surrendered breath suspension supported by biology and filled with a loving mind” yields the sweet fruit.

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Flood the body with Nitric Oxide every morning

After months of an uninterrupted, continuous practice of Anuloma Viloma, the body becomes flooded with nasal nitric oxide every morning at every practice. This stage produces dramatic results and the process speeds up from this point. 

When a big release happens, it smells like clean air. It is a decongestant. Your head clears up and the sinus cavities drain and are wide open. Nitric Oxide cleans the blood that goes straight to your brain. It expands, clears and repairs the arteries and capillaries. Nitric Oxide speeds up synaptic transmissions. It opens the bronchioles allowing you to breathe more deeply. Nitric Oxide plays a role all over the body in the heart, brain, gut and genitals. 

There are many distinct signs of Nitric Oxide being released. The breath slows down. The heart slows down. A generalized sense of wellbeing and relaxation happens throughout the body. Eyesight will temporarily get very blurry. The mind gets clear and sharp. Lots of blood flow to the genitals is a given. There is a distinct feeling of becoming “clean” inside the body. And then things get really interesting at that point.

Nitric Oxide is only one of the underlying mechanisms of what happens in praanaayaama. Praanaayaama in large quantities leads to the activation of the pituitary. The pituitary stimulation leads to the release of painkillers, dopamine, and endocannabinoids that have been already measured in research. From anecdotal evidence, it is very likely that oxytocin, human growth hormone, ATCH, gonadatropins, and many other hormones are similarly activated.

Everyone who has dedicated themselves to This Next Breath practice has reported that "Meditation has never been so good, after a long praanaayaama session." Hmmmm.

Praanaayaama is where aasana practice goes. Are you ready? Now is a good time to start a dedicated praanaayaama practice for real. To begin: https://thisnextbreath.podia.com

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The Train Track Engineer

Praanaayaama is often explained as "breath control" and many yoga teachers teach it this way, using breath ratios and counting. The breath ratio schools of praanaayaama use the will to hold the breath. The word "control" has unfortunate connotations and is out of synch with the TNB viewpoint of praanaayaama. The word "control" implies a controller who is using what they think they need, on the breath.

"Breath Channeler" is a better phrase, that is more inline with This Next Breath viewpoint and practice. You guide the breath left ... and you guide the breath right. That's all. Most of all "Let it flow. Let it go. Surrender into the Praana. Practice happy. Practice a massive amount of time each day." That is the most successful approach, from a biological standpoint.

Based in the teachings of Swami Kripalu, the TNB approach emphasizes listening, curiosity, spontaneity, love, devotion and joy.

There is nothing more miserable than breath holdings, breath ratios and forcing the breath in a box it doesn't want to go into. The messed up mind doesn't really know what's its doing anyway with inflicting ratios. It is more fun, easier and much more delightful to bow down to the Breath (Praana.) Let the Praana decide.

I like the metaphor of a train track engineer who switches track. Here comes the train of the breath, just switch the track and that is your only job. It is so simple. There really is very little involvement of the personality and its neuroses. You listen. You respond sensitively to what the Breath/Spirit is communicating right now. Change tracks. And the most amazing things start to happen.

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Now, is the time to embrace your spiritual life

Around the age of 60, we enter the most auspicious stage of our spiritual growth. This is the stage of life when the most progress can be made. It is a time of pulling back from worldly activities and moving inward into meditation. We either embrace our spiritual life or we don't. 

By age 60, we have lived though many life experiences both "good and bad.” We have survived many ups and downs. All of them have contributed to bring us to this point in time. We have the opportunity to grow bitter or grow wise. 

As we age, we become our mental habits. It is never too late to begin again, but it is important to take the first steps towards a new future.

Now is the time to embrace your spiritual life. There really is no other time. What this means is that we all need (at any age) to be established in a daily routine of early morning practice, or at least a practice that we do upon rising. The practice does not have to be long, but it has to be in place everyday. The everyday-ness is the key. Seven days a week is critical, because our life is everyday. After 60, our mortality becomes more obvious. There are fewer days left and each one becomes more poignant. Time, in this body, is growing shorter.

When you ask “what practice can I do everyday, even it is short? What can I do, without fail upon rising each morning?” One suggestion is to light a candle and chant “Om,” “Amen” or “Shalom” three times everyday. That’s a good practice.

Another option, that doesn’t involve chanting: you can “hum” into your sphenoid bone, at the back of your sinuses, in the center of your skull,. You will receive a similar, non sectarian, universal version of the powerful effect of those other mantraas.

Humming. You would be surprised how powerful and effective just humming into your sphenoid bone can be…. but you must do it 7 days a week upon rising. 4 - 5 times a week is an awkward, not-quite-yet place because you are not yet established in the ethos of spiritual practice. Everyday. Seize the day! This is your day to create. Sweeten your day with three mellifluous hums. (Lengthen the exhale, BTW)

We are complicated multidimensional personalities. There are lots of different voices inside. Somewhere within the complex of our sub personalities, lives a noble soul. Call forth that Great One that lives inside of you. Don’t call forth the crummy, anxious, self defeated sub personality. That person sucks. Don’t call forth the whiny cynical complaining victimized turd bucket. Call forth the highest being within you! The one that is full of gratitude, forgiveness, kindness and grace. Create your day intentionally from the noble being that abides peacefully inside of you. It is there. If you call it, the high vibe personality self will come. Hum into that.

If you do just that, five minutes of humming with the right intention; you would undergo a profound transformation and your spiritual life will take off and accelerate. There are no days off in your life. Practice as if your life depended on it, because it does

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We can't learn what we think we know

When we think we know something, the mind closes the door. Once closed, that door is not easily opened. We have had enough discussion, studied the issue, and no further inquiry is necessary, required or even desirable.

We all do this. It is a time saver. "He or she is very opinionated," is a very derogatory thing to say. And yet, we are all full of opinions.

We may have an image of ourselves as "fair and open minded." Our persona may be very attached to the belief that we are "willing to hear more," and yet when we honestly examine all our beliefs, and the things we think we know, our mind is VERY closed on many issues.

Our beliefs harden. Hardened beliefs become opinions of which we are sure of. Once ingrained, those opinions do not change, or at least they are near impossible to change. Maybe the word "viewpoint" sounds a little better. We develop hardened viewpoints.

It is a relief to accept that you and I actually have many hardened opinions.

Breath is a big topic. My breath practice is still very modest and anybody can do what I have done. I am currently practicing, without fail, one hour every morning with 48 minutes of Anuloma Viloma, and I return to practice many times through the day. I exercise using Alternate Nostril Breath.

Most healthy people most of the time breathe in the 12 - 15 breaths per minute range. Another school of breath called “Coherent Breathing” recommends getting into the 5 - 6 breaths per minute and then a lovely synchronicity of lungs and heart occurs. In my sitting practice, my breath rate goes down the 2 breaths per minute range after 40 minutes or so. And this is not a difficult place to get to, but it will require an established practice. It amazes me how whole new worlds of information at the 2 breaths per minute range keep spontaneously opening up.

Biology first, mind second

When the breath slows down, it leads the mind, and the mind behaves differently.

Every morning I am excited to get to practice to see what happens next. I surrender into the flow of the inner body, listen and respond. There is both structure and spontaneity. I am on the edge of my seat, really. I am at the tips of my fingers, on the threshold of every breath for one hour, amazed at what is happening inside. It is like Mindfulness, only 15 times stronger. The farther I go, the less I know. I am humbled by the rishis of old who spent lifetimes of practice with praanaayaama. Grey Ward (Gitanand) was always very fond of saying that once you get fully established in this kind of praanaayaama practice, all the other stages of yoga start happening very quickly and effortlessly. I am beginning understand the wisdom of his teaching which is the wisdom of classical yoga.

When I begin the topic of the breath, the majority of people, especially yoga teachers, already know everything about the breath. They do ujjaayee and slow flow aasana, which is great. Yup. I did that too for decades and led teacher trainings around it. They did lots of study in anatomy class. "Breath is a gas exchange of O2 and CO2, red blood cells, alveoli, bronchial tubes and stuff." And that is that. The door is closed.

Most yogis are missing the complete mystery of the breath and the breath’s innate unknowability.

The yogis talked about many kinds of breath opening up wisdom that is already encoded in the body. The yogis talked about how the breath pervades the universe. What does that famous phrase even mean? The yogis talked about the Breath is Consciousness manifesting from moment to moment. Intellectually, you might reason these ideas out, develop a cogent theory and turn it into a thesis or maybe write a book. But who is going to devote themselves to a actual practice to realize this wisdom first hand?

Why I created the online course “This Next Breath”

A few years ago, I found myself so broken physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. I went through a death experience of sorts. I directed four yoga studios that supported my life on the material plane, and they were gone. All the Yoga Teacher Trainings, 34 in all, that I led were karmically over, complete. The universe did not want me to do that anymore. I tried getting into a more normal sales business and failed miserably. I hated this new life. I started hating myself begin unable to take care of my family financially. Sales was not the dharma I was meant to live. The Dark Night of the Soul became my normal habitat. The Valley of Death is not a valley, more like a pit. Somewhere deep inside, the Way of the Breath, the way of spirit was calling me back.

That little voice inside was saying to go back.

I went back to my roots and the praanaayaama teachings at Kripalu aashram in the 1980s. I surrendered my life because I did not know where to turn. I was guided, or instructed by some voice on where to go. Go back to the place you once were decades ago. Go back to the early morning aashram practice. Fill yourself with love and devotion and let go.

At first, tremendous will is necessary just to begin and set up a breath practice everyday without fail. It has to start small and be modest. 25 minutes a day. At the aashrama, there is a very specific goal to go with your practice. You want to get to an unshakable practice of “One Ghatikaa,” 24 minutes of Anuloma Viloma.

There are so many problems in the way. Even seasoned master vinyasa teachers might love 3 or 4 minutes of AV, but lhey loathe anything over 15 minutes. I have heard many great yogis say, “What for? 24 minutes of Anuloma Viloma is just a waste of time!”

I recognize now, that voice is one of the barriers. The breath has these built in barriers to practice. The body, mind and personality will put up huge resistance at first to Anuloma Viloma. This is where Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of Love and devotion, which is the ultimate yoga, can come to the rescue. In the ashraama days, we were filled with Bhakti, love for the guru, love for god. We were to instructed to praanaayaama practice because the guru said so. “Have faith.” Faith is what is necessary to get across the ocean of life and death. Faith is what will propel a person to stay with the Anuloma Viloma long enough and persevere through whatever obstacles show up. And there are many obstacles on the way.

Once I got clear on where to go, and identified what the obstacles were (95% personality obstacles) I did some problem solving and experimentation. I could not immediatly, consistenntly and without fail get back to the practice of 24 minutes of AV. That door was not open yet. it started with a few minutes at first.

I still teach 5 local classes a week in Providence and I experimented endlessly on them. My students rebelled anytime AV got over 5 minutes. They reported that they really loved Anuloma Viloma for the short term, and really hated it for longer periods. Right there, was a big clue! Anuloma Viloma has a few walls to break down at the beginning. I had to figure out how to personally get there, so I created this baby step by baby step course to get me back there.

Building the online course was a way of personal salvation.

I underestimated how difficult building an online course was. I am not a super techie person. I tried paying, and begging my friends and family to help, but soon realized that I could not rely on others to build this for me. It was too large of a task. It requires thousands of hours. If this was ever gong to happen, I had to do most of it myself.

At the young age of 60, I started learning about filming, Final Cut Pro and all those tutorials, websites, more tutorials, online platforms, animation software, social media integration blah blah blah and the tools I needed to convey the fountain of breath information that was coming from the practice. I naturally have a great resistance to learning technical stuff, but I recognized the usefulness of developing these skills. There was really no other way but forward.

I adopted the spirit of my friend and ashram brother Tony Kasowski. Tony K was a computer expert at the ashram. All the Kriplau ashram residents would go running to Tony with our ‘broken’ computers. He said to me, “the problem, is not your computer. The problem is that you give up too easily. It is just software. Find the bug and fix it. If it is a hardware problem, that is easy to fix too.” Tony went on to the bigger picture, “I live in the place where I declare ‘no machine can beat me.’ In your life Tom, you don’t have a hardware problem; you have a software problem. Your software problem is that you give up too easily.”

I got to work on my personal software problems and I started learning enough of the technical stuff necessary to make a reasonably good quality video that was engaging. It has to be engaging. Make the moment interesting. In the process, I discovered a new avenue for making jokes. Going through lots of physical, personal and emotional pain in life is a superior path for finding what is funny. Videos are a great way to make people laugh. I set out to make praanaayaama instructional videos that have a tongue in cheek, quirky fun edge, afew belly busters sprinkled in with a program of purpose and depth. Day by day, morning by morning, the effects of morning practice started kicking in and supporting the daily technical work. I started getting so much clarity from the praanaayaama, so much energy started flowing, it was guiding me to keep going without stopping. Practice happy. Never miss a day. Build it slowly.

If you have read this far, if being obsessed with the breath speaks to you, if you are interested in laughing sometimes, begin the course, This Next Breath.

It will support your life, no matter what else you are doing. If you jump into this course wholeheartedly, you will reap huge the benefits. Study the lessons and practice the days, and if you are not absolutely thrilled with what it has given you. I am happy to refund the small investment you made. At present, as yoga teacher, I live below the poverty level. I do charge a small fee for the course to pay for the thousands of hours I have worked on this project. If this course does not benefit your life in a significant way, I am happy to give you your money back.

There are many different kinds of restaurants in this world, French, Italian, Indian, and they serve different food. When you eat French, it is different from when you eat Thai. Likewise, there are many different schools of breath practices. And they are not all the same. Eat the sweet foods of Love, devotion and surrender and most of all laugh along the way. Practice happy. The results are better. And even if you already know everything about the breath, you might be surprised how much more there is to go.

I am humbled by the immensity of the material that is coming together for the Advanced course.

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Taking Control over the Autonomic Nervous System

This picture transcends cultures, language and social norms. It shocked the digital world for a very long time. As you can see in the photo, people have all kinds of reactions to this photo. I see it as a parlor trick that demonstrates an important point. It shows that taking control over the autonomic nervous system is possible! Yogis and others have been doing it for thousands of years.

This photo has been on the web for 2 decades or more (?) Being a yoga teacher for over three decades, I am always curious about what these Indian yogis are up to, especially when it comes to taking control over respiration, heart rate, digestion, pupillary response, urination, sexual response and all the other functions that happen unconsciously. I feel a certain amount of gratitude and indebtedness to this particular yogi for burning this image in my mind a long ago.

Now, at the end of the ”enough is enough” phase of aasana, at 61 years old, I am fully immersed in the stage of Praanaayaama, quite naturally and quite simply. The breath is teaching me at light speed all these things in yoga in the last 18 months that I didn’t even know existed. I sit in a state of wonder and amazement and gratitude. I feel young again.

This shocking picture has been on the web for 20 years or more.

This shocking picture has been on the web for 20 years or more.

"What is the obsession with breath about?" asks a friend.

This is from a Facebook post.

Q: What is this obession with breath?

Q: What does it mean to “master your breath?”

As some of you may know, Swami Kripalu's practice centered on praanaayaama. It is about taking control of the praana through breath practices, especially long sessions of Anuloma Viloma. In 1988-89, Kripalu asharam residents had a general praanaayaama practice that we did at 4:00 am in the morning. In Kripalu YTT, we taught a healthy generalized practice that is good for all.

Gitanand was a primary guide and teacher for me at that time. Later, Gitanand and I were roommates in India. Slowly over time, he had ("mastered his breath" ) reduced his breath rate to one breath per minute or less.

Why is that desirable? There is now lots of emerging science on getting your breath down to 5 breaths per minute and how it has a synchronizing and revitalizing effect on the heart, mind and organs. Breath is the hot, big frontier in science right now at Butler Hospital, Brown University and RI Hospital where I work. The postures of yoga are great, but the real benefits of yoga are the breath. The biggest health benefits are always about the breath, not the poses. The mind gets very quiet down there at the one or two breaths/minute range and remarkable things start to occur, physiologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

If you read Kripalu's writings you will find all of this there. Yes, you and anyone can develop some skill with the breath rather than just let it run on autopilot and identify with the thoughts in your mind. The mind gets scared, the breath gets tight. The mind has anxiety, the breath is disrupted, held, broken or jerky. Change the breath, the mind changes. Let breath lead the way and the mind follows.

The yogic path, certainly of Kripalu, was to develop unbroken attention on the breath and especially to work with Anuloma Viloma, which is the ultimate practice in the yoga tradition. And no one gets Anuloma viloma because no one is willing to put the time and effort it takes to understanding it. You have to be patient and persistent. Very few actually take the time, because there are so many difficulties. "It is boring. My arm and shoulder hurt. What is the point?"

My contribution here is to problem solve the obstacles, that we all hit with this practice. I have had some success and I would love for you to take the first steps and develop a significant practice that makes a difference in your life. Most "advanced" vinyasa yogis can barely do 10 minutes of Anuloma Viloma without giving up and would never even want to to do more, because they don't know, what they don't know. They dont know what lies ahead, because they haven't been there. This course is a vehicle to slowly, safely develop your breath skills. You can do it, anyone can do it.

Breath practices increase intelligence

One of the most notable effects of doing massive amounts of breath practices in the morning is that it increases your attention, memory and your intellectual functioning. Don’t take my word for it. Prove it to yourself. If you do lots of breath practices, this quicker, more nimble functioning of the mind becomes obvious. You will become highly alert and focused. You will find that you will be more articulate and more creative. You will have a brighter mood, and feel more energized and happier in your life.

"Praana activates Prajnaa, and Prajnaa then guides the Praana" Kausitaki Upanishad.

In more understandable terms, breath practices awaken the higher intelligence and the higher intelligence then guides the life force. This is the yogic understanding.

For most people, praana, the life force is on automatic pilot carrying out all the functions of the body while our minds are busily occupied with our day to day activities. On the yogic path, the practice of breath (praanaayaama) are designed to build up, focus and shape the life force. This activity awakens a higher intelligence that is latent and not fully realized when praana is left on autopilot. The breath leads the way, the mind follows and in time, there is a blossoming, a quantum leap in cognition. The life force intelligence awakens.

In classical Yoga, Aasana (postures) are a foundational prerequisite for the later stages to flower. At the stage of praanaayaama, yogis use the life force practices to awaken the innate, latent, life force intelligence. “Prajnaa” in the yogic tradition has the meaning of “praana jnaana.” Once this higher intelligence is awakened, prajnaa then spontaneously guides the praana. This is the teaching of Swami Kripalu and many other yogis.

In mainstream Buddhist traditions, mind leads the way. It is all about the mind. Mind matters most. The teaching usually is that one should be mindful of the breath, “bare breath” and breath practices like praanaayaama are to be avoided. Consequently, “Prajnaa” has a very different meaning in Buddhist Minfulness practice. The mainstream Buddhist path is significantly different. The word "prajna" is often translated as "wisdom." Prajnaa is defined as "insight into the nature of the way things are, ie. the truth of the Buddha's teachings, the truth of impermanence, suffering, and no soul." It's the same word with very different meanings, from different times, usages and teachers.

Joining the Sanskrit debating society, and how one word has different meanings in different times and traditions is a wonderful endeavor and can be an enlivening discussion for a few people. However, there is no substitute for doing your own work. Develop a systematic practice that everyday gets you to your pillow.

In the upcoming Advanced Course, I can guide you safely to where I have gone. Developing a massive praanaayaama practice is possible for everyone. I problem solved the significant road blocks (boredom, loss of focus, tired arm and shoulders and other common problems) that have held most yogis back. There is going to be a new appreciation of Alternate Nostril Breath and the ancient Kripalu breath tradition once you experience how I rewired the practice. This is a modern practice based in an ancient tradition. It is simple enough, a kid could follow this.

The biggest problem is that most people, including yogis, underestimate the breath.

Most modern yogis believe breath practices are just Ujjayee with flowing poses. Some know of praanaayaama as a module they did in Teacher Training for an afternoon. Or praanaayaama is conceived of just being Breath of Fire, which makes everyone super peppy. These are known things that are known.

The praanaayaama of Swami Kripalu involves taking Alternate Nostril Breath really far. This kind of praanaayaama practice is very much an “unknown unknown.” We don’t know, what we don’t know. We are not even aware of what we don’t know.

Let’s say you do 5 minutes of Vinyaasa posture practice. You know, from your own experience, that 5 minutes of vinyaasa is not the same as 90 minutes of vinyaasa practice. We all agree that 90 minutes of vinyaasa is a completely different universe than 5 minutes. They are worlds apart.

Most skilled and competent modern yogis do maybe 5 minutes of alternate nostril breath, Anuloma Viloma, or 10 minutes at most. After a brief practice, they feel good and then they stop. The obstacles to continuing with Anuloma Viloma start coming. They stop. By sheer force of will, one day they might grind their teeth and tough it out for 24 minutes, but will power and force is not going to work for very long. Will power and force is not how praanaayaama works. They might push it to 24 minutes of Anuloma Viloma and then “Ego depletion” hits (see previous blog post.).

The obstacles to Anuloma Viloma are so great that most yogis are easily defeated. Praanaayaama practice is just “too boring,” and it “hurts your shoulder,“ “it is just too willful” and “of what use is it?” Most yogis say, “I did my 10 minutes of breathing; I am good.” In this upcoming course, I will slowly guide you to 24 minutes of Anuloma Viloma practice in a few months that will become effortless! And then course goes beyond that.

Most yogis project from the 5 minute experience that a really big Anuloma Viloma (24, 48 minutes or more) practice just isn’t worth the time or effort to develop. Why would you do such a thing? This is what is meant by unknown unknown. You don’t know, what you don’t know. You will never know what 90 minutes of vinyaasa feels like if you only do 5 minutes.

It is likely that your breath rate will greatly decrease from 12 breaths per minute, to 5 breaths per minute to 2 breaths per minute, without struggle or ratios or forcing. Mind follows and things gets really quiet down there.

I can show you the way. Joyfully, I can hold your hand to get you there. I have traveled the path and can bring you along. Once you know how, it is not that difficult. This path will take you many months to a year. You don’t have to be talented, flexible or smart. You just have to be persistent.

Begin This Next Breath Course for the first 40 days.

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Anybody can do this.

Praanaayaama Diary Feb 21, 2019: After 45 minutes of effortless Anuloma Viloma, I objectively checked. The breath was steady at 2 per minute over a 3 minute period with no strain, no struggle, no willfulness. Just clarity.


"You now have a seat at the table," a thought from somewhere said. "You can now guide others to this place."


Anybody can do this. You can do this. And it will be the most revealing ride of your life.

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Ego Depletion

Do you want to make a big shift in your life? You want to begin a healthier diet, or an exercise program, quit smoking, quit alcohol, tackle compulsive shopping, or in our case, begin a masterful Breathing Program. There are many stages and pitfalls along the way, some you know well, and then, there is this other obstacle called “Ego Depletion.” Read on.

First, there is the “Bloom of Inspiration.” You see the Big Picture. You see the long term effects of where you could go, For example, you know without a doubt, deep in your bones that regular exercise will help your body, emotions and mind. It will make your whole life happier, if your body is happier and functioning well. A vital body and mind will help you accomplish all the other things in your life you want to achieve. Regular exercise makes sense. You see the bigger picture about where this new activity will lead you. You decide to take action.

The second stage is important: to make a commitment to yourself. “I want to effect this change in my life.” It is powerful to write your commitment down, and build in a system of reminders to help you stay on track. Use your phone, write post it notes and place them around the house. Keep a calendar of your practice is powerful system that helps you get to exercise. Give yourself small rewards for getting through your practice. Announcing your intention to a group of friends adds extra power and force to help make this great change in your life. Sometimes the social connection can be the smartest way to keep you accountable and on track with going in the direction you have chosen.

You make great strides for a week, maybe two. You are riding the high of your initial inspiration. It takes will power to get the whole thing started, and it will take will power and all the other tricks you can think of to get you through the many walls of resistance that naturally show up. You may even make “sacrifices” like not going to a friend’s party because you know it will be a slippery place, you will feel like shit afterwards. and you might not exercise for a week after Bob’s party. Going to Bob’s party would be a disaster, because, well, you know Bob.

If you make it through this stage, congratulations! You chose long term advantage, for impulsive short term gratification. This kind of “Executive Decision” is usually connected to the Orbitofrontal cortex which is found behind the eyebrows. (Imagine if you had a practice that strengthened that part of the brain, like This Next Breath!)

30 or 40 days pass and you are still with your exercise program. You have been true to your commitment and intention. You enter a new wonderful phase, called “Momentum.” Now your inspiration has turned from “good idea” into a habit. Your project suddenly gets easier. You don’t have to force yourself to get out of bed and exercise. You are getting so much self esteem, joy and power from feeling like you are in control of your life. You can make change! You can steer your life towards a better future! This is a very empowering stage. It has become “The New You.”

Time passes. A few months go by. Life changes. Things happen. The shininess fades. And then a critical obstacle called “Ego Depletion” rears its ugly head.

Theories on “Ego Depletion” are a crucial topic in social psychology. It is based on the idea that will power is a limited quantity. It occurs when mental and physical energy is low and the barriers to impulsivity break down. The self control to make long term choices over short term gratification falls apart. The personality that was originally inspired, that made a commitment, that lived the commitment for 30 days or 30 years, falls apart. Emotions arise. Thoughts become slippery things. The voices in your head suddenly start finding “reasons” why you should do the opposite course of action. “It’s too hard” “ I need a break” “Everything in moderation.” There are literally thousands of ways humans self sabotage our best intentions. We find plausible “reasons,” but the reasons were ultimately based in emotion! (see previous blog post.)

Some psychologists have suggested using fructose, glucose on the tongue, but not fully consuming it to help make a shift back into your original inspiration.

For the Yogis, it always comes back to the Witness. Can I Witness those thoughts, rather than identify with those voices. Can I stay operating at a higher level? Dealing with personality and behavior change is the toughest and most rewarding adventures of all.

Here is where a breath practice can serve like no other endeavor. Breath practices are closely connected to our higher evolution. Breath and Spirit, one’s innermost essence, are one and the same reality to the yogi mystic. Come back to this next breath, over and over, and over again when the going gets rough. Being able to observe what is arising in the mind by staying on the edge of the moment can be daunting. This is where skillfulness with a breath practice can come to your aid and help steer your life towards a better future.

In the Hatha Yoga Pradeepikaa and in the writings of Swaamee Kripalu, you will find that they speak so highly of breath practices leading to the evolution of your consciousness like no other practice. Anuloma Viloma in particular, is unparalleled in helping you make the quantum leap of your life. Breath practice like long exhales and the subtle body energetics we use in this program, bring you into the “Seat of the Soul,” where you resonate with the essence of your life’s purpose. You get the bigger picture of your life. A long term breath practice, like we offer in This Next Breath, are like the movie “Ground Hog Day.” You evolve into a better version of yourself.

Warning: it is helpful to remember, “Humans have an infinite capacity to deceive themselves.” May we all catch our self deceptions before acting on them. Heaven help us all.

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Praanaayaama Diary 12/31/18

Praanaayaama diary: 12/31/18. Slowly, I have built back a strong Praanaayaama practice rekindling my ashram days. Back then it was 24 minutes “AV” Anuloma Viloma, & 90 minutes asana. “Practice happy, build it slowly.”

My baseline this month was 24 mInutes AV and then four little 4 minute AV practices WOFHOW. (Without fail, hell or high water.) 16 days this month I got in a double 24+24. Things start to get pretty trippy at this level, but the good kind of feeling: sharper attention and memory, increase in articulation. I started adding in the AV Flow this month which makes it doubly double intense. (1 minute AV flow=2 mInutes AV.)

Yesterday, I tested the boundaries. 36 in the early am AV flow, 20 minutes leading a class in AV flow, 30 minutes more in photoshoot AV flow with Belinda. Plus multiple small practices.

Yes, that is the boundary for me right now. It feels like an alchemical transformation factory inside. Fireworks without the gun powder. A strong desire to purify on every level arises. Purification is the only way to shift into what this practice calls for. Breath burns up what is impure: food, thoughts and habits.

The boundary is when irritation starts arising. The signs of too much are clear. Then it is time to stop. “Practice happy, build it slowly “ is the first rule.

I am telling this to you because most people do yoga but don’t really understand what a Praanaayaama practice is.

No wonder Swaamee Kripalu said “Praanaayaama is the soul of yoga. It is yoga itself.”

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Don't Cardio, Breathio...

Juliet asks:
“How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath?”
~ Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 5

The simple answer to Juliet’s famous question is “expiratory reserve volume.”

Juliet’s poor nurse, like many people, lives her life in the tidal volume of her breath and when challenged uses her expiratory reserve volume. Most likely, if she is a Shakespearean nurse, she has a slumping posture, a droopy heart and a collapsed rib cage. She gets through life with a small breath.

Cardio is a bad strategy for this nurse. “Cardio, Cardio, Cardio,” is the old and busted January mantra. Strengthening the heart muscle is noble, but the heart is only part of the picture. In January, many people get back to running and feel their heart beating out of their chest. We FEEL it in the heart. The pounding heart is how the limited myth of cardio began. Make the pump pump faster.

“Where you think it is, it ain’t” said the great Ida Rolf.

To be healthy, the myth goes, you have to make the heart beat faster and faster, and work harder and harder for 30 minutes everyday. Forget about the rest of the plumbing.

Physiologically speaking, the heart is only 20 - 30% of how the mitochondria (the power houses in the cells) get fed oxygen. Overall, it is a complex reality including the lungs, blood vessels, diet, metabolism, blood quality, posture, daily habits, age, past history, genetics and the quality of your mind states.

The heart and lungs are inseparable. The right side of the heart pumps blood into the lungs and the lungs then feed the left side of the heart. The left side of the heart then pumps it into 300,000 miles of blood vessels. We can chop heart and lungs apart with a scalpel, but they are one.

“Breathio, Breathio, Breathio” is the start of a bigger picture. Developing your lungs, fascia and skeleton is the yogic approach. Barring medical conditions, first passively manipulating the lungs, rib cage, spine is far easier and a kinder method for our Shakespearean nurse. Developing your breath means you are going to work with posture and alignment for many months or years and create new habits. The entire body, mind and spirit eventually become involved in taking this next breath.

The myth of deep breathing is a persistent one, even in yogic circles. There is a belief that yoga is all about deep breathing 24/7. Nope. That is still not the yogic method. We do practice near total lung capacity a couple of times a day in a daily practice. However, the deep and energizing breath practices of yoga (kapaalabhaati and bhastrikaa) are only preparations, not the central practice itself. The myth of deep breathing confuses many yoga teachers. Your breath needs to match your metabolic rate and that range is tightly controlled by the body.

The central practice of yoga is praanaayaama. A major milestone in yoga is eventually slowing the breath down to the two-breaths-per-minute range through alternating nostrils for 24 minutes. Then the breath slows down more. An ordinary person, like you and me, can do this with training and time. Anyone can do this. It is not hard to do, once you get your breathing habits in place and practice consistently. You don’t have to be smart, talented or a contortionist. You do need to be persistent.

The breath doesn’t lie. You cant use your will to accomplish this in one day. You, the person reading this right now, can build a powerful breath practice in the next year. Practice happy, build it slowly.

This Next Breath is an online breath course that will help you do this. It is lighthearted and fun too. The course is made up of videos, audio recordings and online coaching and support. You can develop the ultimate skill, the breath, at home. Find out more.

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Reflect on past decisions. Decisions are emotion based.

"Decisions are emotion based, and then we back them up with reasons." says Blake Eastman, of the Non Verbal Group, a Human Behavior Expert. "It is necessary to have a reflective system in place to examine the thought process that went behind every decision, and that includes writing them down, if we are going to understand ourselves and make better decisions. There is only one way to steer our lives. Are all my decisions and behaviors consistent with my goals? Everyone needs a review process in place if you are going to have your behavior align with your goal."

Reflection on the thought process that went into a decision, is the piece I need to come back to today. Without deep reflection on our decisions, especially in the early morning hours, we will continue to make emotion based reactions that may or may not be in alignment to where we want to go. Is my thought process emotional justification, rationalization? Is that a squirrelly sub personality?

If the voice inside says "I will wait and see how I feel", "I am too sick""Too tired" "'I can't' means I won't" these are usually emotion based voices that are powerfully convincing and may sound like "my truth," one of the smarmiest phrases ever. These voices are not really you, the yogis will tell you. Ekhart Tolle would call them your "Pain body speaking."

Setting a goal and living it, is one of the most exciting, worthwhile and self esteem building things a human can do.

One of the tenets of this program is to "Never Miss A Day." In the early morning hours, as we transition from sleep to waking state, our mental decision making capacity is diminished. Some days the thought process at that time of the day is murky and dark. In this course, we follow the maxims "Practice Anyway." "Show up for your life.""Keep a Calendar."

This Next Breath is a simple 25 minute Breathing Program and done everyday becomes a super powerful, super charging, life changing force, or so say the people doing this program wholeheartedly. It starts off small and grows big. Even though this practice is 25 minutes, any commitment to a goal invites breakdown, and fears around breakdown and all kinds of interior personality problems. Gratitude and Forgiveness are important friends along the way.

Maybe practice today doesn't look like other days, (personally I am up to one hour of Anuloma Viloma) and I showed up, hell or high water, ragged and beaten up by this cold. Resistance was at an all time high. Maybe todays practice was "shoddy" compared to the other supersonic days. Drop the judgment about "good and bad" again and again and again. Start again.

We all do the best we can with our commitments. I wish you well with the voices inside your head and steering your life. What you practice gets stronger.

"Just when you think you have mastered the voices in your head, they get trickier. Yogi Amrit Desai

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