Breathing Practice

by Tias Little, author of Yoga of the Subtle Body

More than anything it is important to come to know the quality of our own breath. In the beginning, I used to strive to expand my breath in the same way I actively stretched in a yoga posture. But I have learned that it is important, imperative really, not to “push the river of your breath.” Rather, it is best to follow the current of your breath—that is to sense its rhythm, texture, and nuance.

Avoid trying to manipulate your breath like you would your hip joint in half moon pose! Sometimes we try to “colonize” our breath and become the master of it. I think it is better to watch, wait, and listen. I like to say, “let the breath breathe you.”

I think the more we can observe the changes in our breath while inviting our breath to open, the more we can open without causing harm. Have the intention to come to know your breath intimately—that is, take great care.

Deep internal breath work is like holding a small child. Visualize “cradling” your breath so that it will spontaneously soften and spread. Yogic breathing is a super delicate dance that involves actively moving your breath while passively receiving its flow.

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Tias Little synthesizes years of study in classical yoga, Sanskrit, Buddhism, anatomy, massage, and trauma healing in his dynamic, original style of teaching. One of the foremost yoga instructors in North America, he offers intensives at all major yoga conferences and institutes, including the Yoga Journal conferences, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Esalen Institute, and Omega Institute. Tias began studying the work of B. K. S. Iyengar in 1984 and in 1989 moved to Mysore, India, where he studied Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

A licensed massage therapist, Tias has in-depth training in craniosacral therapy. His practice and teaching is influenced by the work of Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Thomas Hanna. He earned a master’s degree in Eastern philosophy from St. John’s College in Santa Fe in 1998.

In addition, Tias is the founder of the Prajna Yoga school in Santa Fe, where he hosts retreats, workshops, and teacher-training programs year-round with his wife, Surya. He also offers online classes through YogaGlo and teaches internationally.