What will you be?
By Maria Andrade
Imagine there is a path to bliss. Let’s say this path has eight branches, and that when you study each branch and walk this path, each step is a discovery to your own being.
You may be familiar with the term Ashtanga, also called the Eight Limbs of Yoga. In the yogic path, each step, or limb, offers guidelines for a meaningful and purposeful life.
In the Western world, our yoga practice is most familiar with two of the eight limbs: poses (asanas) and breath work (pranayama). The less familiar limbs are yamas, niyama, pratahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. In a very broad sense, those who walk this greater path seek to live a life of kindness, truthfulness, moderation, discipline, contentment, cleanliness and to seek knowledge.
A few months ago, I saw an image. It was a collage of photos depicting famous people. On each photo were the words, “Be ___.” Be kind to yourself (Robin Williams). Be kind to animals (Jane Goodall). Be the voice for change (Desmond Tutu). Be humble (Jimmy Carter). Be a revolution (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Be a reader (LeVar Burton).
I was struck by the simplicity and the power of the word “be” to describe an individual’s life path. If your life path could be simplified into this phrase, I invite you to consider your “Be ___.”
The yogic corpse pose (savasana), is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to reimagine our “Be ___.” We all have an inner wisdom, but often we are stuck in the hamster wheel of our thoughts which blocks us from discovering it. Our energy (prana) after savasana is what quietly introduces us before we speak.
For this meditation, I invite you to sit comfortably so that your breath can be steady. Place one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly. Close your eyes. Take a few moments and notice your breath. Engage and expand your breath from the pelvic floor (the muscles located at the base of the pelvis and which support the pelvic organs) all the way up the length of your spine to your nose.
Sit up a little bit taller and relax your face, head, neck and shoulders. Place your hands on your knees, palms up. Inhale, and imagine your breath two inches above your neck. Let it flow down the center of your brain, down your neck, then continuing down the center of your chest and into your belly. Exhale, and send the energy through pelvic floor to the earth. Inhale energy through your tailbone to your belly. Exhale and send the energy back up your body through this imaginary channel past your heart, through your brain and out through the top of your head.
Imagine this core channel, or central passageway (shushumna), as your life force and your path to enlightenment. Complete the breath 5-10 more times until it becomes comfortable.
Imagine this energy as you walk through life. Imagine your word, “Be ___” that completes your own image in the photo collage. Try to sustain this breath practice a few times a day off the mat, while standing in line or sitting in the car. Each time, call to mind this core channel of energy within you and your own introduction of be-ing.
Maria Andrade is a certified yoga teacher, specializing in kids yoga and trauma informed yoga. Contact her at 478-361-7246 or learn more at abcbreathe.org.