YOGA: BREATH MASTERY SCALE

+ Resistance (or fear): Reflexively inhaling and bracing on perceived effort + Force (or anger): Actively inhaling and pressurizing on perceived effort + Discipline (or the beginning of yoga): Actively exhaling through effort/ discomfort; passively inhaling on cessation of effort/discomfort + Flow: Passively exhaling on compression; passively inhaling on expansion + Mastery: The controlled pause after exhalation during the pose or movement Every time we begin a new pose or movement, if we don’t transfer the lessons of mastery to the new learning pose or movement, we need to start at the beginning of the scale again: first fear, then anger, then discipline and, finally, flow and mastery.

Mastery is not only an ongoing deepening process within a pose but also an ongoing expanding process between poses. We must actively work to expand our daily personal practice to include every activity from the time we wake to the time we sleep, in all things: walking, jumping, biking, skipping, talking, driving, writing, typing, tumbling, and so on. Fear, trauma, and stress – these things can come in and cannibalize our mastery. Mastery isn’t a level achieved and neglected. If we’re not moving deeper, we’re moving backwards. Our breath will always guide us as an insufficient but necessary component of deepening mastery.

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