Advanced Yoga for Beginners

Wherever you are, try this practice:

Drop your chin down towards your chest and place two fingers over the right chamber of your heart. That's where the hridaya lies, the source of all opposites—above  to below, left to right, front to back.

Now, inhale from that point. Create a sound that Krishnamacharya described as "a cobra hissing". I like to think he was referring to the great Adishesha, king of serpents.

As you exhale, make the same sound and make it the same length as the inhale. On the exhale, bring your focus to your lower abdomen. Feel it strengthen.

Most people have a weaker inhalation. Don't worry, it's a symptom of our patriarchal society manifested in your breath. Work on strengthening the inhalation. Focus on receptivity.

Repeat this until your awareness is completely linked to the breath.

Once you've got that down, add some movement. Start with the arms. If you can't move your arms, lie on the ground and move your legs. If you can't move your legs, move your head. If you can't move, god bless you and enjoy the stillness as you link your ever-moving mind to the breath.

On the inhale, lift your arms. On the exhale, let them come down.

Think of it like a dance. You and your breath. Let the breath lead (men, this is a great exercise in receptivity). Nothing moves before the breath. Let the breath completely envelope the movement.

Now practice this until you are hitched to the breath like your life depended on it (it does).

This is Yoga—the union of opposites.

Apply this technique to whatever style of asana practice you prefer. Maintaining this intimate link to the breath will keep your practice honest and force you to ask the questions: "Am I struggling needlessly?", "Am I a servant to my ego or my breath?", "Is this gymnastics or Yoga?".

Only you have the answers.

Like all the other answers, they're within you, lying dormant, waiting for you to arise from your slumber.


wake up,

and breathe.