One of my favorite movie scenes is the one from the Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery flick, Entrapment. The one where they recreate the laser beams of the museum where the heist will take place and after weeks of practicing and studying she moves through the whole maze, blindfolded. Her movements are so graceful, and she is breathing so audibly the entire time, sensing as much as she is remembering and feeling as much as she is thinking. She has complete faith in herself because she is completely centered and integrating movement with breath.
This is what we strive for in our asana yoga practice. It is the fine art and practice of linking our breath to our movement. Easier said than done, but without it we might as well be doing Indian calisthenics.
The miracle of our practice is also the miracle of our lives. We go to bed every night and wake up everyday without giving our breath a second thought... we have blind faith that our breath will happen whether we are aware or conscious of it or not, and usually we are not, but we trust that it will keep us going, keep us alive.
Our breath is our unique spark and stamp on this universe. In sanskrit, it is called Prana and means life force energy. It is the essence of who we are and the most beautiful metaphor for faith and divinity: we can't see it, or touch it, but we can feel it and we know it is there. Our breath is the bridge between our physical body and our mind, heart and spirit. It is what binds all the parts of ourselves together.
In the yoga sutras, Ishvara Pranidhana is surrender or devotion to the divine. In our asana practice and in our meditation practice, we bring our full awareness to the beauty and mystery of our breath and if we are practicing yoga, we consciously surrender with faith to it's power, to that spark of our OWN divinity. We are literally building faith in ourselves through devotion in our practice. That is what yoga does. The pose is just the vehicle we use to go inwards and explore.
When we refine this crucial aspect of our practice, and let the breath reveal every sensation, every wound and blessing, every opening and closing, every strength and challenge, and embrace it all as part of our sacred, beautiful selves...we create a revolutionary self acceptance, self love, self confidence and self empowerment which we can then radiate to others. This is how we change ourselves and the world.
So remember in your asana practice to let the breath lead the movement, in your meditation practice to follow the breath and not the thought, and to honor your prana with every inhale and exhale In so doing, you are honoring and building the divine within yourself.