The revered naturalist, John Muir famously said, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Muir’s observation is at the heart of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras written more than two thousand years ago. The word yoga is from the sanskrit “yuj” in two ways: one in the sense of samādhi, or concentration, and one in the sense of to yoke or to join. It’s often translated as “union,” but it also means “method or technique.”

As Muir understood, everything is connected and we are connected to everything. The goal of the practice lies in the realization of eternal oneness. Richard Rosen, who wrote the seminal 2006 book on pranayama, sums it up this way: “Yoga doesn’t create a union, it reveals that it’s been there all along.” And that everything is hitched to everything else. Exactly.

Feel the sky

“Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly”  —Van Morrison

I love the term “gravity surfing,” coined by the amazing yogini, Ana Forest, to define balancing. Figuratively and literally gravity surfing is the space between lightness and groundedness, the effervescent center (samana vayu) that unites our inner winds of inward/upward energy (prana) and downward/outward energy (apana).

The work of apana is lessened by receiving and improving the quality of prana. Prana and apana are always working to balance each other in an isometric push-pull dance. As a metaphor of life, minimizing the input of negativity and maximizing the input of positivity will help improve the balance of prana and apana. And let our soul and spirit and body fly.