The nice gentleman currently assisting in the yoga shala has been helping me with a couple of poses, and the recurring theme of his advice to me has been "bandas and breath", as in "tighten your bandas and move with your breath".

The bandas are different muscle locks that we have in the body. In astanga they talk about the bandas in your asshole, your lower abdomen, and your throat. In this case we're talking the bandas in the lower abdomen (it has a fancy sanskrit name that I don't recall right now).

When I first started practicing, my teachers Andrew and David would always tell me to tighten those muscles. I'd be like "what muscles? I don't think I have any muscles there. Is it possible I have some anatomical defect so they're just absent?"

Turns out I do have them, I'd just never used them. And it also turns out that they're pretty important little fuckers, not just for getting into difficult poses, but also for your general stamina, libido, digestion, feelings of self-worth, and probably a bunch of other things I'm not even aware of. They're a good acquaintance to make.

Bandas is one of the things that you hear about a lot in astanga yoga. You can be assured there's someone asking a question about bandas at every single conference with Sharath, and that Sharath will say you should strive to tighten your bandas 24/7.

So saying you should tighten your bandas is a bit like saying you should drink something if you're thirsty. And the same with the breath. Every movement in astanga is with the breath. Inhale do this, exhale do that, inhale do this, and on and on. You don't just move and breathe in random ways. The breath is really what it's all about. So again, saying "move with your breath" is like saying "open your eyes if you want to see".

Consequently, what I want to do, is go up to this fine man who has been helping me, and in an over-the-top way say something like:

"Dude, that's so brilliant, bandas and breath! How did you come up with it? Did it just come to you? It's even an alliteration!"

I'll play it over in my mind. Including the split-second pause before "alliteration" to ensure the vowels don't blend together so he can hear what I'm saying.

I like humor that's not too obvious. Not completely obscure, but subtle enough that there's room for doubt. You have to take a small risk when you respond to it. "Is he serious?" That's part of what makes something funny to me.

And so, ideally, he'd respond, in roughly the same tone of voice, something like: "Yes, I know. Isn't it crazy? I just download shit like that all the time!"

Or something like that.

And then I'd say, "but seriously, that was exactly what I needed to hear. It's kinda like saying 'You have the answer inside of you', but when you're busy looking outside of you, that's what you need to hear. So thank you, it's made a huge difference."

But since chances are he wouldn't get my humor, he'd say "oh, it's part of astanga, haven't you heard Sharath talk about it", and I'd have to explain that I was joking in the way I said it, but that my intent was to say thank you, you've made a big difference.

Maybe it would just be easier to go straight to "thank you".


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