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Partly it’s going to be based on your mood, or your feeling at the time. It’s going to be based on what the posture is demanding. The point is, the breath is breathable. It’s varying. Guruji, he said that the breath is a medium breath. Which meant that it’s not too long and it’s not too short. It’s not like your best pranayama each vinyasa position — if that was the case, it would take too long; it would become forced, unnatural.
The elegant shapes and impressive contortions of the asanas may be the most eye-catching element of hatha yoga, but yoga masters will tell you they’re hardly the point of practice.
Pranayama, the formal practice of controlling the breath, lies at the heart of yoga. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through a panoply of breathing exercises. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga—like asana—and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.
Many accomplished yogis will tell you that minding the breath is central to the practice of yoga. But take a tour of a dozen yoga classes in the West and you’re likely to discover just as many approaches to pranayama. You may be taught complex techniques with daunting names like Kapalabhati (Skull Shining) and Deergha Swasam (Three-Part Deep Breathing) before you even strike your first pose. You may find breathing practices intermingled with the practice of the postures. Or you may be told that pranayama is so advanced and subtle that you shouldn’t bother with it until you’re well versed in the intricacies of inversions and forward bends.
So what’s a yogi to do? Breathe deep into the belly or high up into the chest? Make a sound so loud the walls shake or keep the breath as quiet as a whisper? Practice breathing techniques on your own or weave them throughout your existing asana practice? Dive into pranayama from the get-go or wait until you can touch your toes? To help answer these questions and sample the range of yogic breathing, we asked experts from six yoga traditions to share their approaches to pranayama.
Excerpts of Yoga Journal article, Six Views on Breathing in Yoga, by Claudia Cummins
The two names for the asana come from the Sanskrit words baka (“crane”) or kak (“crow”), and asana (आसन) meaning “posture” or “seat”.
While different yoga lineages use one name or another for the asana, Dharma Mittra makes a distinction, citing Kakasana as being with arms bent (like the shorter legs of a crow) and Bakasana with arms straight (like the longer legs of a crane). In the west, practitioners often mistranslate the Sanskrit “Bakasana” as the English “Crow Pose”.
“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.”
Very rarely do people open up to genuine help when they feel like someone is looking down on them or projecting onto them. None of us want to feel judged, misunderstood, or coerced into believing something when we’re not ready.
So what do we want? What is it that helps people create change when they’re struggling and resistant to help?
Some of the answers that resonated with me include:
1. First, check yourself. Do they really need help, or are you pushing some agenda subconsciously or otherwise? Second, let them know you’re there. Third, give them an example to follow. ~Carl B Salazar
2. People have to come to where they need to be to get their lessons. You can’t help someone who is not willing. But you can love them through it. Send light and love and hold them in your heart space. I had to hit my own bottom and dead end to turn around and climb back up…when I was ready and willing. ~Karen Blake
3. We can stop judging people, assuming that they are not helping themselves. Perhaps the helplessness is the sign of their being out of their comfort zone. If we want to help, we can do some positive things like: Give some encouragement or discuss the situation with them and let their own intuition discover the best way to help themselves. ~ Santosh Nag
4. Examine your attachment to their choices. Their challenges and choices are their life lessons, not yours. Is your wanting to help them saying something about you that you need to learn? ~Susan McCourt
5. You can help them by just being there and being supportive. You can still plant seeds. Most minds are so conditioned it is almost impossible to shed any light on their world. So just smile, nod, suggest, and if it does not help then move on with no regret because you tried. ~Skip Blankley
6. Don’t enable them. Put the tools in their hands to help themselves, show them how to use them, step back, and be there when they trip. Love them when they fall. Repeat repeatedly. ~Crystal Boudreau
7. You can’t make people be what you want them to be and you can’t decide what is best for them. You can only choose for yourself. There is a huge difference between can’t and won’t. Can’tmight be open to help. Won’t can’t be your problem. The best thing is won’t might not always be won’t.Hope for that. ~ Melodee Luka Kardash
8. Love them until they learn to love themselves. ~ Amber Weinacht
9. Stop trying to make them live as you think they should…How others live is not for us to control, but to learn from. ~ Crystal Sverdsten
10. Let go. They have to help themselves and accept responsibility. ~Viengxay Jimenez
11. Their path is not yours to blaze, and who’s to say they’re not exactly where they need to be at this very moment? ~Fiona Berger Maione
12. Focus on your own well being (boundaries) so that you can provide stable support when they ask for help. Allow them their process no matter how difficult it is to watch. It is neither our right or responsibility to manipulate their journey. ~Robyn Williams
13. People who won’t help themselves usually don’t trust others or themselves. Until they do, help them along by being a friend, but don’t engage in crazy behavior with them. ~Jerelyn Allen
14. How do we know, when we’re in our own little egos, that that person isn’t already doing their work? Sometimes, “helping” someone, means leaving them alone…sometimes, you help just by being yourself and healing your stuff so that others can see the change and know that it’s possible. The best way I’ve found to help others is to try and be as authentic as I possibly can. The rest, well, is just none of my business. ~Amy Scott
15. Don’t turn your back on them. Just accepted them for who they are, flaws and all, then decide for yourself if it is worth it to you. If it is, patience is a virtue. If not, then keep a hand out but watch out for yourself as well. No need for two people who won’t help themselves. ~April Spears
16. Support is important. Talk to your friends don’t leave them when they go through hard times, you’ll need them when you’re going through a hard time. ~Rosemin Bhanji
17. Help them see how their actions impact others (children, spouse or parents). ~Eloise Cabral
18. Open the door. They’ll walk through it when they’re ready. ~Devon Palmer
19. Be a role model. Show them what life is like when you cultivate and cherish the self. ~Steven Lu
20. Stay strong! Use your strength to combat their weakness. It takes time. ~ Laurie Stahl Sturgeon
Excerpts from How to Help Someone Who Won’t Help Themselves By Lori Deschene