The path was created long ago, and we are now following it. The word for path in Sanskrit is marga, so we follow the yoga marga, the way of yoga. The path has been cleared and made smooth and passable by the ancient ones who proceed us. So the instructions, the guidance of our teachers is essential. At the same time, the path is made by walking. Our path cannot be the exactly the same as the ones who tread before us. The path is always created and re-created by those of us who walk it. The path is always changing, like a trail in the forest, it changes season to season, year to year. The path is never static. So we participate in making the path. Again and again, day by day we walk the path, and in this sense the path is continuously being redesigned, renewed, revitalized. So it is not a dead path, but one that always has a quality of freshness, discovery and surprise. In America and around the world today the path of the dharma is being re-imagined, reconfigured. When we walk the path we keep the path that has been established 2,500 years ago at the time of the life of the Buddha and his followers, and we are treading it anew, each day, as if for the first time.
You don’t have to do yoga to know that you should not “hold your breath”. Yet in order to make it through a topsy turvy time it is common for people to do just this. When we say “holding your breath” we do not simply mean not inhaling. Of course, people rarely “hold their breath” for without breath there is no life and by way of a long held breath, you might end up passed out on the carpet! It is more common for people to constrict their blood vessels, clench their nerves or tighten their sphincters in order to get by.