It seems that the breath is the first place we become disconnected from the body—in daily life, in stressful situations, in over-concentration. The breath is also a wonderful tool to bring you back to the moment, to bring you back to your body, back to the recognition of what the mind is doing. It reminds you to expand, to fill up the space within you with air, and then… to let go.
As a yoga instructor, I try to remind myself of this often as well as convey it to my yoga students. Yoga is about so much more than physical activity. It can be very athletic; however, it is also about balance and connection to the breath. In the Yoga Sutras it states that yoga is a place of comfort and stability. How do you find that place in a difficult pose (or a difficult situation)? Can you find that balance between strengthening and relaxing, between effort and repose? Can you find places where there is unnecessary holding—in the jaw, in that space between the eyebrows, in the mind, in the breath…?
It is wonderful to challenge oneself, always, but it is also necessary to make sure you maintain room to breathe, to find a space that you can soften into, an effortless effort that is able to create more expansion than a forced effort. Let go of holding that restricts the flow of breath and movement, to release the past and the future, and simply breathe in the moment.