Somewhere along my yoga practice, I started counting breaths for measuring time. Rather than mouthing 1, 2, 3…, counting breaths enabled me to hold a shorter amount of time when being over-challenged, (breathing fast due to excess effort,) and maintaining an asana longer when my body so allowed. In other words, it is a natural biofeedback mechanism. I Also noticed that it did something else – it made me even more connected with my body during practice; the air moving through my nostrils, via my throat into my expanding and contracting lungs, formed a connection between the external and the internal.
Taking it a step further, I started counting heartbeats. It has the same notion of biofeedback and this too connects me to my body, but given that heartbeats are a little harder to observe, this practice makes me even more attentive. Combined together, I now practice breathing to the count of my beating heart. For example, when practicing a breathing technique known as 1-2 breathing, a practice during which one inhales to a certain count e.g. 4, and then exhales to double that count e.g. 8, I do this to the rhythm of my heart. This elevates the practice as a whole as I find myself attuned to both my heart and my breath.
The next natural progression is to adopt a practice summed up eloquently by Joseph Campbell: The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.
Learned from: my beating heart