Mantra is a Sanskrit word originating in India; ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means transport. While mantra originated as Vedic hymns, the spread of yoga practice has brought about change in the many ways that this resource can be used to bring simplicity and sacredness into the lives of many. You may already have a mantra of your own without even identifying it as “mantra.”
Often practiced silently, sometimes aloud; this is my mantra. 'Exhale and flow' is a phrase for the highs, lows, and transitions in between on this beautiful wave we’re riding called life. This is how it came to be the beat of being here; a foundation for my practice in every waking moment of life.
These three simple words started as instructional cues when I began teaching vinyasa yoga classes. The wave that rolls through sequencing of postures: exhale to lower to the mat, inhale to lift the chest, exhale to downward facing dog.
The instruction of movement just kept leaving my lips that way, and practitioners demonstrated the flow beautifully with breath; and I found that the simplicity of ‘exhale and flow’ felt like a really authentic delivery of what I hoped to hold space for — embodiment beyond the physical movement.
Over a course of time, those three words kept showing up as guidance for my yoga practice. The connection expanded beyond chaturanga into all postures; beyond physical practice into all 8 limbs of yoga; and beyond the mat into my work, relationships, and play.
The meaning of exhale and flow has developed with my practice and my teaching. Along the journey, I am finding more and more meaning in this mantra. Connecting the dots, grounding my feet, and bowing my head. There is a lifetime of practice towards true understanding. So far, I have connected a few dots which I believe to be true. And this is why I continue to repeat it.
exhale and flow
The exhalation is a valuable tool to let go of resistance, release tension, and discharge stagnant energies. Breath is the source of infinite connection that we all share. It connects us to universal existence; the beings that came before us and the beings that come after us. Breath is the transformative rhythm of the ocean and the vastness of the sky.
This flow is the foundation of our life experience, an involuntary miracle that so often takes the backseat to modern life and mind chatter. Through human tendencies to respond, react, and retreat during challenging times, our breath brings us back to the flow - to ease. The flow of life is happening, and it does not stop. It is up to me to decide whether I am going to fight the flow and remain stagnant, or be one with motion of the universe in all of the uncomfortable shifts on the divine ride.
Much like the ocean, our breath is a far stronger force than the anxieties, ego tricks, and fears we face. This human existence - life - is beautifully and intensely unpredictable. We have the power to navigate the unknown with gratitude through unchanging awareness of breath. Resistance is a natural part of life, but breath is life. Consciousness ebbs and flows; still and all, the power of breath is a resource to return to truth, vitality, and freedom.
EXHALE AND FLOW
I trust the universe, because I am breathing.