Breath and tears never come empty-handed. When we do breath work, it brings insight and memory.
Working with the breath or Pranayama ( प्राणायाम) is regarded as one of the most powerful and essential practices in yoga. As the bridge between the body and mind, the breath is considered a fundamental tool that allows us access to our vital energy or prana (प्राण).
One of the first innovators of Vinyasa Yoga in nineties California, Max Strom is an internationally respected authority on the body-breath connection. By harnessing the energetic, healing potential of the breath, Max Strom has developed a powerful breath-centric method that addresses energetic and emotional imbalances.
In conversation with the expert, we explore the transformative power of breath to heal our bodies, emotions, and in the process, re-discover a profound connection with ourselves.
THE MODERN CONDITION
These days, there’s a strange new definition of normal. We treat emotions as if they’re a problem and medicate them away.
“If you look at how society is now”, observes Strom, “we have 25-30% of people taking anti-depressants, anxiety drugs, sleep dysfunction medicine. That’s a third of our society, a third of adults.” As a symptom of our modern condition, we live in a world that neglects and suppresses perceived “negative” emotions. This is a direct response to growing expectations placed upon individuals to achieve, succeed and thrive, in the frenetic pace of modern life.
cause and effect
The manifestation of these symptoms are the direct result of two main ills of the modern condition. The first being the most common experience of isolation. Strom elaborates, “ People are feeling isolated now more than ever. This goes against the common narrative that we’re all so connected now, via Social Media etc. And we are, but at a very superficial level. What people aren’t doing anymore, is being in the presence of each other, making eye contact, laughing together, hearing each others voices, reading each others body language”.
The next cause of our emotional imbalances relates to the consistent neglect, or suppression, of our emotions. In modern society, Strom observes, “when we suppress grief, it comes out as anxiety. The funny thing about anxiety, is that we act like we caught it from shaking someone’s hand like we caught a cold or something”. Speaking about our modern culture of treating medication as a solution, Strom states, “It’s easier to take a pill, than do the work. It’s socially acceptable”. Considering the profound influence of our emotions on our state of health, Strom asserts, “the only way out of grief and anxiety, is through”.
Anxiety is a really big one now. But anxiety is a symptom. Its symptoms can include panic attacks, compulsive disorders, grinding the teeth at night, and other PTSD syndromes like hypervigilance.
We are not taught anything about how to handle our emotions. This is one of the biggest wounds of our society.