Thomas Michael Fortel
is a longtime yoga practitioner/teacher, influenced by the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Anusara styles of Hatha yoga, and drawing from his devotional experience in Bhakti yoga. He travels widely, sharing his love for yoga.
One of the great benefits of ongoing yoga practice is the development of our ability to pause, and to rest in the posture of observation: an inner state of conscious awareness. This can mean being in a place of deep relaxation, yet alert and aware as we observe our inner reality and outer environment. Yogically speaking, this occurs primarily through the practices of pranayama (conscious breathing), dyana (meditation), and asanas, the postures of yoga.
One's whole being, starting from the physical body, can be refined and strengthened so it acts as a medium for the higher cosmic force. The system of hatha yoga was designed to transform the gross elements of the body so they can receive and transmit a much subtler and more powerful energy. — Hatha Yoga Pradipika (6th century text)
Yoga is a practice of ever-unfolding metamorphosis. This is accomplished through the physical postures (asanas), conscious breathing (pranayama), and the clearing and focusing of the mental consciousness (meditation, or dyana).
The long, slow, conscious breath has the ability to stabilize and quiet the fluctuations of the mind. Concurrently, the breath can act as a medium through which we are able to connect to the formless dimension of being, to the invisible realms of spirit and soul. Whether we are in the yoga room, changing jobs, or dealing with a shadow facet of ourselves, the conscious breath can serve as an amazing tool of transition—it can calm us down in the corridors of change.