This blog is the fourth in a series that invites you to experience the Yellow Barn’s 10-day Yoga of Transformation, guided by Gary (Anandasagar) Majchrzak, a nationally renowned yoga teacher and instructor.
By Polly Meyer
The studio in the Yellow Barn has beautiful old hardwood flooring. The grain and the complexity of knots and nail holes add to the rich character of the wood in this space. When I lay my hand on the floor, I can still feel the energy coming from this rich piece of earth; and I feel grounded when I stand on it with my bare feet. The flooring has small gaps here and there, and once in a while I’ll unknowingly lay my yoga mat on a plank that sticks up higher than the others, making Chivasana a little uncomfortable. So I’ll adjust my mat an inch or two and all is well. Life is like that. And so is our yoga practice.
Our practice is immersed in deep and focused breathing. We breathe in and out through the nose to create space in our minds and bodies. We load our blood with oxygen to open, nourish and restore ourselves to wholeness. We breathe into our Chakras – that’s pronounced CHakra with a CH, not SHakra. And we move our breath energy up our spines, over our heads and into the Third Eye. Our breath is the ultimate healing force in our bodies. It circulates the oxygen through our lungs, arteries and veins clearing out toxins and restores us to perfection.
My favorite practice is the Nadi Shodhana, which is designed to purify our bodies, stimulate our right and left brains, and bring balance to our breathing by alternating the breath through both nostrils. This breathing technique significantly and positively affects my mood during our yoga practice. The thumb and ring finger alternately close and open the nostrils as we deeply inhale, hold and exhale our breath.
I like it because the technique has a calming affect. That is, unless you have a stuffy nose or swollen sinuses. In this case, you’ll feel like you’re suffocating as you struggle with great effort to pull in that life-giving breath. One of the yogis had us laughing as she lightheartedly shared how her nostril was so blocked that she thought she was going to die because she couldn’t get any air in. Gary instructs us to accept where we’re at in the practice and to not force the breath in or out. It’s meant to be calming, so we learn to adjust the technique to get the breath in as best we can. One of the yogis was so blocked that her only resource was to imagine the air alternating between her nostrils. And for me, that was the coolest thing. I mean, it wasn’t perfect, but she accepted her limitations in the moment and adapted herself to reap the benefits.
Embracing imperfections is what yoga, life, and old hardwood floors are all about.