Ashtanga, Guruji used to say, is a breathing practice.
Yesterday, the sound of the breath just drew me into the practice, the pulsation of the inhale and the exhale, the sacred moment of silence as the gap in between is naturally observed.
It was not even my own practice, but those of the students around me. It was not even my own breath, not in the beginning.
But it tugged at me until I, too, was breathing that barely audible sound of air slowly passing through the throat.
Together we were a chorus of sound made up of different paces, different qualities, different syncopations. Some were fast, while others were slow. Some had heavy billowing breaths, while others had soft or shallow breaths.
For me, as I kept my watch over mysore class, I felt the room. For others, they felt their bodies, the postures, or even more subtle internal energies.
Call it ujaii, breathing with sound, Darth Vader’s softer cousin… What it’s called doesn’t matter as much as what it does, this sound track of practice.