Guest blog by Carrie Heeter, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University

When you do a personal daily yoga practice you are alone. Your focus is internal. The outside world feels distant. But the outside world flows into and back out of you with every breath. Your breath is your life force. Magnificent cycles of inhalation and exhalation, circulation, and cellular energy production coordinate an internal symphony that keeps you alive.

Your breath also boundlessly connects you to the external world.

In enclosed spaces you share the air.

It’s easy to imagine sharing the air with people around you—at home, at the office, at the yoga studio, at the gym, on the plane.

Adults on average take around 900 breaths per hour. So throughout an hour in an enclosed space, every person with you in that space exhales that many times. 

Visualize each person’s exhale having a unique color. The longer you spend together, the more intermingled the wispy rainbow of exhaled breaths becomes. You breathe that intermingled air, a little of which has passed through the lungs of the people around you.

Outside air seeps and flows into buildings through open windows and doors, through vents, joints, and cracks in walls, and through ventilation systems to refresh inside air.

You share the air.

A vast thin layer of breathable air envelops the Earth. 

The air you breathe is the same air every human around the world is breathing. The air you breathe is the same air all air-breathing plants and animals are breathing. 

Like all air, your exhales flow and circulate throughout the atmosphere. Within about 2 months some of the 25,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in the breath you just exhaled could find their way to the far side of the Earth.

The air you breathe today has been around for half a billion years.

The air you are breathing was breathed by all humans (and air-breathing plants and animals) who ever lived. 

Earth’s atmosphere has been a stable system for the last 550 million years—composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gasses (including argon, water vapor, and a trace—.04% of carbon dioxide). You participate in this dynamic, stable system.

We share the planet.

Astronauts seeing Earth from space describe overwhelming emotions as they perceive one world—precious and fragile—shared by humankind.  

You connect to our shared, precious planet with every breath. 

Observe the air coming into your body as you inhale, some of it becoming part of you. Observe the air leaving your body as you exhale—rejoining earth’s atmosphere. As you breathe, close your eyes and be aware that the air you breathe connects you with life on Earth. Notice what arises as you sit with that idea.

Now is a great time to do Yoga Well’s Expansiveness of the Sky Experience-CAST

Yoga Well director Chase Bossart guides a 14-minute Yoga meditation, The Expansiveness of the Sky. Having just read this blog post, you’re especially well-prepared for the meditation.

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The Yoga Well Podcast offers fresh perspectives on what Yoga is, how it transforms the body and mind, and liberates your life! Within the Yoga Well Podcast we will share teachings from the Viniyoga lineage of Mr. TKV Desikachar, while exploring Yoga as a way of being that is practiced both on the mat and in our everyday life. 

When we understand Yoga as a lived experience, its practices and principles become available to anyone who is interested and invested in this life-long journey of self-inquiry and personal transformation. In this podcast your host Chase Bossart and other leaders in the Viniyoga lineage facilitate intimate discussions with a range of fascinating topics and perspectives exploring how Yoga turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Carrie Heeter

Carrie Heeter, PhD, RYS200

Carrie Heeter, PhD, RYS200, is a meditation designer, research scientist, and author of  the book An Inside Look at Meditation: Experiences for healing, support, and transformation. She has studied yoga one-on-one with her mentor Marcel Allbritton and participated in Yoga Well courses and trainings for more than a decade. She is a retired professor of interactive media and serious games at Michigan State University