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    Come Softly to Me

    Finding the Inner Quality of Softness

    By Dave Teitler

    Check out two balloons, the first one is a very thick tough rubber. The second one is a very soft pliable rubber. Now try to fill the first one with air. It's really hard to do.

    Now feel the difference when you try to fill the second one. The balloon easily receives the air. Now get into a yoga asana or posture. Do not try to push the stretch more than 90% of your maximum. Leave yourself some room to be soft inside, just like the second balloon. Now try to let your breath fill your body just like the air filling the balloon. Stay soft inside letting your body receive the breath. The more breath you let inside, the softer you get. The softer your interior, the deeper the breath.

    This is the secret of a perfect practice. Your practice doesn't have to be attempting to put 100% effort into the pose. This is self-defeating and will contract the meridians you are trying to open up.

    Let your breath guide your practice. Surrender to the breath completely and try to flow with the postures. This type of practice will leave you with the feeling that you could go on with your postures for another hour. You will feel totally refreshed and invigorated.

    The postures represent a long dance sequence flowing from inhales to exhale. Expansive movements are inhales, while contractive movements are exhales.

    Inhale as your arms reach up to the sky

    Exhale as you swan dive to the earth

    Inhale as you look up high

    Exhale as both legs move back to plank

    Inhale into the upward facing dog

    Exhale into downward facing dog

    And so it goes, this ritualistic dance that actually dances you as you surrender to your breath with each movement of your body. You become one with your breath, riding the wave of the dance.

    The same exact method of practice is also practiced with Tai Chi and seated meditation. In Tai chi we let the whole body relax and let the breath slowly fill the body from the center of gravity. We don't do the form; the form does us, as we flow from posture to posture.

    In seated meditation we just sit perfectly balanced and relaxed as we watch the breath fill and empty our bodies. We remain soft as the breath seeks to become one with us. Self-awareness while you are practicing will awaken your innermost psyche. By receiving the breath, you create room for spiritual growth and deeper understanding.

    About the Author: Dave Teitler has been involved with teaching and practicing karate, tai chi, yoga and qigong for over 40 years. He is presently the Director of the Physical Arts Department and the Chair of the Yoga Department at the New York College for Health Professions in Syosset, New York. Dave is also a member of the Legend Martial Arts Association and is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher.

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