The wind is an incredibly powerful scientific phenomena. Areas of high pressure send air into areas of low pressure causing wind, and in doing so these winds can create what are sometimes massive storms. Hurricanes and tornadoes are winds which create so much power that they can be especially destructive to our, human’s, way of life. While we at the Playful Yogi would never want anyone to suffer, quite the opposite actually we’d rather everyone be happy and healthy always, we also think it’s super cool that the simple manifestation (a perceptible, outward, or visible expression – thank you Merriam-Webster!) of wind can change so much. In fact, while wind possesses the power to destroy, wind also has the power to build; wind can be used to generate electricity. It’s amazing that what seems like a the simple act of air transfer between high and low pressure zones can do so much!
What’s more, wind moves things: the earth can be picked up, and moved to another spot by the wind; the wind can create waves in our oceans, disturbing and moving otherwise calm water; and wind can stoke and spread fire. Wind is universal, meaning that the idea of wind moving and transforming (did we mention that wind has the power to break down rock) affects everything and everyone, everywhere. And, there’s an individual form of wind, i.e. the breath.
The breath moves the physical body, every time we breathe our lungs physically expand on inhale and contract on exhale and our diaphragm (a muscle at the base of our rib cage) domes and contracts on inhale and exhale, respectively. While practicing flow, a type of yoga often referred to as Vinyasa, to place with intention, we assign a breath to each movement. For instance, from standing tall at the top of your mat with arms by your side, in mountain pose, tadasana, “Inhale lift your arms overhead for urdhva hastasana, upward facing salute, exhale bend forward at your bellybutton for uttanasana, standing forward bend,” or from forward fold, “Inhale halfway lift, ardha uttanasana, exhale plant the hands and step back to downward facing dog, adho mukha svanasana.”
In this practice in particular, the breath is the primary focus while the movement begins after the breath. It’s challenging in yoga to take a sip or two of air into our lungs before we begin to stand up from folding forward, but that is in fact the practice, to be so focused on the power of the breath (eh-hem, air or wind if you will…) that the movement is nearly automatic, as in muscle memory. And beyond movement, because of course yoga is far more than the posture, the breath, like the wind, can change anything in a moments notice. So like it reads above: just breathe.