A balanced relationship between the conscious and unconscious is one of the most important goals of bodymind practice. Breathing is a perfect activity because it is, in many ways, a bridge between these two realms of our being. The conscious mind directs breathing; the unconscious body responds to this direction. If the mind’s direction is too strong or forced, the body will rebel; if the mind’s direction is too weak, the body will be unsure what to do. In Spiral Praxis, we attempt to smooth out this relationship so that body and mind work harmoniously as one.
Physical issues of breathing are covered by incorporating spiral bodymind hierarchy concepts into our breathing practice. The spiral bodymind hierarchy lets us examine the central torso coordinations connected with breathing. Students do not require detailed anatomical knowledge; instead, we focus solely on the internal bodily perceptions within us and learn how to balance them using simple symmetrical flow operations. For example, rather than seeing an exhale as being a separate movement than an inhale, Spiral Praxis students see it as being a pure retrograde motion—in other words, the exhale as being an inhale in reverse. Such symmetrical operations are very helpful in simplifying our understanding of how to initiate, coordinate, and retain phases of the breath.
Another innovative side of Spiral Praxis breathing is the extensive control of the mind. Spiral Praxis presents all sorts of mental imaging, pulsing, and meditative techniques to calm the mind during difficult breathing retentions. The class of pulsing techniques are particularly efficient in breathing activities. By listening to a metronome, students can initate a learning reflex on every metronomic beat—over the course of an hour, this translates to potentially over a thousand internal adjustments. Read about how co-founders Stephanie Gottlob and Yuji Oka used mental pulsing techniques to finish Iyengar’s Light on Pranayama breathing sequences in just a month of study here.