Being the Kumbhaka
Here I sit on the eve of my departure with gratitude in my heart.
Gratitude for the warmth and light of the summer evenings here in Blighty, a sunny send off for a sunny future.
Gratitude that the last few weeks have sorted themselves into some sort of final funnel, transitions are not always easy.
Gratitude for the honest death of what was and the new learnings and challenges about to make their way into the frame of my life.
Right now I feel like am living the ‘Kumbhaka’ - the breath pause - there is this strange stillness in my world as I fill my cup - I wait - ready for a new chapter. I am the vessel where changes are being held, ready to be unleashed on both myself and other lives I hope to effect in the near future.
And then I return to the exhale moving the stagnant energy - creating space for something new.
So for all those moments of ‘Kumbhaka’ this week, where I have held my breath, asking have I made the right decision?
A reminder, there is an always an exhale, followed by an inhale.
Every in-breath itself being a new beginning, bringing new energy, new prana to my system.
TO PRACTICE: Yogis this ‘Kumbhaka’ - is an excellent pranayama to work into your daily lives, not only does it help to focus the mind, but it increases your endurance. Physiologically, it strengthens the diaphragm (remember the diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that needs a work out too...) and it also cleanses the respiratory system. Sit comfortably in Sukasana (easy sitting pose), make sure your seat is raised so your hips are higher than your knees and take a moment to arrive. Focus your attention on the breath, the gentle inhale and exhale, trying not to force it at all. Then after a few rounds you can begin to introduce the Kumbhaka, the breath retention, pausing at the top of the breath for a count of three or four and then allowing the exhalation to occur when it needs to. Inhale. Repeat through ten to fifteen rounds then return to a natural breath rhythm.
Within my practice of Kumbhaka pranayama this last week I realised initially I wasn’t finding the stillness, the quiet and the freedom I usually do but instead that I was griping, holding dearly to things that punctuate my current life, the one I am about to leave.
I have been allowing myself to get caught up in feelings of apprehension and anticipation and not allowing this week to be the pause it truly is.
Final lists of things to do looming in front of me…
…just a few more hills…
my nails dug in really deep.
I remember to loosen my grip. There is only so much I can do, that the universe will allow.
Some things this week I can’t do…
some people I won’t say goodbye to…
some places I don’t have time to visit.
Aparigraha - is the last of the five yamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It is the concept of non-possessiveness. The word ‘graha’ means to take or grab, ‘pari’ translate as ‘on all sides’ and the ‘a’ that sits at the front of the word means ‘non’.
Watching myself box my life into a cupboard, disposing of so many of my ‘materials’, I began to allow my grip to loosen.
I meditated on accepting only what is appropriate for me right now, in this moment…
…honoring the limitations of time with friends and family…
…then returned to my pranayama practice.
Then it felt honest. Then it felt truthful. My life situation full of freedom.
I am now truly being the Kumbhaka.