Back in my college days I took a music listening course, thinking that it would be an enjoyable easy credit. Little did I know that I would be required to listen to hours of music not of my choice, and listen for structure and story, and then be tested on my analysis of the music. I am sad to say, I did not appreciate the course.
Now, teaching people about their breath, I find myself asking them questions about their breath similar to the questions I was asked about music in that college music course … What is the meter of the breath? What is the temperature of the breath? What is the phrasing of the breath? Where is the breath being easily received?
Basically, with these questions, I am attempting to hook the practitioner into listening intently to the music of their breath. I am like an excited little boy wanting to share some new discovery with a willing friend.
A breath is like a snowflake. Each one is unique and beautiful. The more you can drop in and listen and observe each single breath, the more the breath naturally opens. When we want or expect the breath to be something other than what it is, there is often a hardening that agitates us at the most intimate level.
There are an infinite number of exercises we can do with the breath, but the fundamental one that we yogis all come back to time and time again is to lie down in savasana (corpse pose) and observe the breath with as little manipulation as possible.