40 Days of Yoga: Day 5

Today I discovered the sweetness at the bottom of the exhale.

I think I’ve been rushing through my exhales in order to quickly get to my next inhale. In yoga, I thought the inhale was where the stability came from. And certainly a vigorous vinyasa practice can have me wanting to gasp for breath. But today I experienced how much grounding can come with a complete exhale, grounding both in the physical sense and energetically. That full release felt like sweet surrender.

Without reading too much into this discovery and using it as an analogy for how I approach everything in life (in case you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to do that), I wanted to investigate where else I could find this sweetness. I was surprised to see how it could be applied at mealtimes.

Taking the opportunity to fully exhale during each bite, I found greater depth of flavor and appreciation for my food. Much like the practice of eating mindfully, exhaling opened my eyes to a new way of experiencing my food, as though my senses had been heightened by the activity. It caused me to rethink the meaning of the expression “inhaling your food.” In the past, I believed that expression to mean eating too quickly and without mindfulness. Now I see an additional layer, a literal one, in which it means to only inhale during each bite and quickly exhale in between in order to rush on to the next.

I think there are two ways to look at this. One being the obvious of choosing to rush through something because the mind is eager to move on to the next (the next bite or inhale or cookie). The other is that we’re trying to save something for a rainy day or in case of emergency, as though we’re afraid there may never be a next inhale or a next bite. This is where the analogy of surrendering comes in handy.

We have to accept that every rise has it’s fall and every story has it’s d’enouement. Once we accept that fact, we give ourselves permission to relax and enjoy the sweetness that follows.

Don’t be afraid to see something through from start to finish. I believe your understanding and enjoyment of the thing will be increased when you allow it to have a natural resolution. And if you feel yourself getting anxious, remember to breathe.