My knee is back, almost one hundred per cent. But it's allergy season, and in the midst of these meditations on pranayama, I'm having difficulty breathing. In class, the biggest impact is on my stamina. I'm back at a point where I can't seem to get myself through both sets of Triangle. Actually, I am tending to skip the first set. I haven't quite decided if this is just some mental block, or if it really is the allergies.
I've been thinking more about the idea of the opening pranayama setting the tone for the rest of the class. More and more, it seems to me that the object of the opening pranayama is to set a deep rhythm, a rhythm that will perhaps carry forward to the rest of the class. For a long time now, I've told people to stay within their breath, and tried to live up to the same idea myself. But this sense of rhythm takes that idea even further. Staying within the breath, for now at least, means not only not getting to the point where you can't breathe comfortably through the nose. It now also means either maintaining something like the rhythm of opening pranayama, or coming back to it between poses. Concentrating on this, when I can, adds a new dimension to the class.
The day 260 meditation is fairly simple. It re-emphasizes the connection between breath and spirit. Gates doesn't mention this, but the word "spirit" comes from the word "spirare" which meant "breath." Thus, respiration (containing the "spire" root) is the system of the body that deals with breath. Inspiration, which is the act of taking in some divine enlightenment, literally means breathing in. And expire, means simply to breath out. The etymology of the word could not make the connections clearer.
There are some every day usages which still emphasize the connection. Think of what it means to be "breathless." Or waiting with "bated breath." There are probably other examples, but I'm not thinking of them now.