By Vytas Baskauskas

When we come to the mat, there are so many areas of focus to choose from. Depending on the type of practice, one may focus on the strength it takes to perform certain postures or the correct alignment in them. One could focus on some of the more nebulous ideas such as chakra balancing or devotion to a higher being. There is no right or wrong place to put our focus, because ultimately it is the focus itself we want to cultivate. In my experience on the mat though, there is one element that guides us no matter what type of yoga we partake in. The soul of the practice lies in the breath. The breath can be used to provide energy and vitality. It can heat us up or cool us down. It can bring immense calm or acute excitement. The most important part of our breath is that it is happening right now. I can practice yoga in this very moment just by bringing my awareness to my breathing. I’m not a very new-agey spiritual guy, but what I do believe about enlightenment is that it won’t happen in the past or the future. To be truly happy and free, we need to be present. Each breath is a moment to bring us into the here and now. Downward facing dog pose isn’t something we can bring off the mat with us, but the breath will follow wherever we go. Yes. Of course it is nice to be strong, flexible and aligned. It feels good to have the chakras balanced and a strong connection to a higher power. But all of these are merely a shell of the practice. The soul lies in our connection to each deep breath we take… to each moment we live… to this very instant.

Yoga is NOW.

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