300 Breaths

awkward_pose_3-001Hot Power Fusion (HPF) is the CorePower Yoga version of the Bikram series. The class contains the same 26 postures, though holds most only once whereas Bikram repeats. Instead, HPF adds a few sun salutations, flows, a balance inversion, and core work. It maintains 104-degree heat and 40% humidity, though it never feels as hot to me as Bikram does. Still, it is potent yoga.

Bikram begins with a long series of pranyama breathing, which HPF omits. Pranyama is a great warm-up that stills and controls my breath, so I do it before class begins. The objective is to create even six-second inhales and even six-second exhales that establish a regular breathing pattern to continue throughout class.

imagesFor me, the entire HPF sequence is one long flow with measured breath. A complete class of pranyama-paced breath includes 300 cycles of six-second inhale and exhales. I never achieve that. At some point in every class I lose my focus and my breath quickens, or I breathe faster to support my exertion. Oftentimes moments pass before I realize that my breath has strayed and I have to refocus my energy to align breath and movement again.

The HPF teachers can facilitate this seamless breath, but not all of them tech the class as one continuous flow. Some consider each pose or series distinct and take too-long breaks between them to maintain the balance of breath and movement. I am learning to simply continue at my own pace, sometimes moving ahead of their direction, other times lagging. Since I don’t want to disrupt students who follow the teacher more literally, I have taken to practicing in a corner of the hot room, which also helps my focus.

Perhaps the day will come when I complete a class in 300 even breath cycles. When that time comes, new ways of focusing my yoga will emerge to spur my practice. The journey of breath will not end with 300 perfectly executed cycles. It continues until all breath stops.

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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