January 14, 2011
Kosher Sutra: Be the Tiger (Parsha Beshallach)
Some times we all need to go to war. Once more unto the breach, dear friends. It may be an internal war ‘gainst our own emotions. It may be for good reasons, to prevent ourselves from doing something we’ll regret.
Our Kosher Sutra features the powerful exhalation from God’s ‘nostrils’. This anthropomorphism describes the sea waters piling up so that the Hebrew slaves can escape Egypt, and the Divine breath paves the way for freedom. In the 12th Century, Rashi confirmed the translation that this was indeed an exhalation while Ramban connected it with a verse from Isaiah (40:24); ‘Even if He were to blow on them, they would wither’. A powerful, connected breath achieves great things.
We can generate inner strength through this powerful breath, focused through the nostrils. Pranayama is the yogic science of energy control through the breath, and today’s focus is ‘Bhastrika’ breathing where you have a succession of quick exhales by ‘pumping’ the abdomen.
Before the classic Battle of Agincourt in Henry V, the king is rousing the English troops before they have the French enemy running to save their baguettes;
“In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
Our mind and body can be controlled and rallied through the breath of our nostrils. The Hebrew word for exhalation is ‘Nashaf’ and these three letters N-Sh-F rearrange to form ‘Nefesh’, which is a Hebrew name for our soul.
Godspeed to you, be strong in body and soul.
To practice Bhastrika/bellows breathing, take several sharp, explosive exhalations through your nostrils, ‘pumping’ abdomen. Just exhale in quick succession, and the eventual effect is to calm the mind’s movements and generate more energy. Try 15 quick exhalations, take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can, before relaxing and repeating the process.
Marcus J Freed is the creator of Bibliyoga and yogi-in-residence for JConnectLA & Jewlicious Festivals. He also the President of the Jewish Yoga Network and Director of Yoga Mosaic USA. He teaches in Los Angeles every wednesday night - http://yogaandkabbalah.eventbrite.com/