I've recently been concentrating a lot on the breath as the means of deepening my yoga postures. I realised that I've been straining and struggling to get into them and hold them, using all the RI (reciprocal inhibition) and PNF (proprio-neuro-facilitation) cues I could find....the result being I've over-stretched my hamstring / glut and have been in discomfort for a while now.
These cues are great, don't get me wrong and I actively use and recommend them to students as ways to deepen the postures and learn engagement of the correct muscles. However, I have been over doing them, they should be used sparingly, very sparingly, maybe just once a week even....
The one thing which I have realised that I have not been doing is letting the breath do its work. Funny eh? The only thing that makes the practice yoga. I've been rushing the in breath and I'd noticed it was half the length of the exhale. So I've double its length, in fact, I'm breathing the entire length of the natural inhalation, man it's long...I note the top of the inhale, then let go.....the exhale comes naturally; freedom, surrender, the natural path of the breath. The lengthening of the inhalation gives me physical length in the spine and a greater softness in the muscles but more importantly has given me back the natural ability to really LET GO.
So as new year dawns once again, along with those wishes for new beginnings and renunciation of bad habits, the negative and destructive samskaras, I suggest you take a few seconds to watch your in breath and begin to lengthen it to its full capacity in order that you can find the real space to "let go", both within and without, in 2013.