How Can I Learn Not To Control My Breath?


Hello. I am new to yoga. I tried hong- sau technique and just can’t get myself to only observe my breath. I start to control it- either by conscious breathing or by stopping the breathing.

Please guide me on how to just be aware of the breath and let go of control over breath while observing it. How to be an observer of breath?

Big thank you for all the love and guidance in the emails.

You are home schooling a baby!

—Ritu, India


Dear Ritu,

Yours is a very common difficulty. We are training ourselves in what Yogananda calls “conscious passivity,” and it’s not easy: on one side are very “conscious”, alert, concentrated, but at the same time we are “passive”, meaning without interfering.

Try to detach yourself from your body as you meditate. A helpful thought is this: “I am observing the breath of someone else.” Try it and see if it helps.

Or another image which might help you is, as you sit to meditate: “I am watching a film.” In a film you are very attentive, but you never enter the film, you are always an observer. Try that one, too.

Or, if that doesn’t help you much, maybe you can talk to your breath before practicing Hong-Sau, just like to a child: “Dear breath, you are free to do whatever you like. I will just lovingly observe you, and be with you. Go and play now however you want.” See if that works for you.

This practice of becoming the observer has a very deep and important spiritual effect. Yogananda explains: “By watching the breath, you metaphysically destroy the identification of the soul with the breath and the body.”

In time we realize: “I am not the body or the breath. I am a soul, an observer, forever free.”

All the best in your meditative efforts,