"This brings us to an important part of yoga that isn't much talked about. The exercises at level one — the level of our physical body — function to facilitate the flow of inner wind through the various subtle channels. This is the whole point of yoga poses as they were originally intended.

"Think of your inner channels like little garden hoses with knots in them. Suppose there's no water coming out of the hose, because there's a knot. And then maybe you don't notice the knot, and you go and turn the faucet wide open. You could bust the hose.

"The same sort of thing can happen when you do some vigorous yoga, which sends more and more inner wind racing through the channels. If you haven't made an equal effort to loosen up the knots in the channels, you can get some unexpected results. These can range anywhere from a pulled muscle to feelings of irritability or competitiveness as you do more and more yoga.

"Every student of yoga needs to work on avoiding this problem — it can undo all the efforts we make in our yoga classes. The best way to work on the knots is simply to be very serious in the practice of Giving and Taking as you go through a session. Concentrate on the exhale of your breath — especially as you explode the air out with the sound of 'ha' at the end of the Arrow. Send out the gift of joyful effort.

"You know the wonderful feeling you get when you're excited about something you're working on — the creative juices are flowing, and there's a kind of excitement in the air. Your mind sinks into the task, and sleep or food might be forgotten for many hours at a time.

"What we give upon the breath of the rose and the light of the diamond in this exercise is exactly that same kind of joyful excitement, in doing the most exciting thing in life; helping other people. Imagine that the person you're sending your gift to is suddenly inspired to be a Mother Teresa, in little things, to everyone around them all the time. Helping others is a bit here and a bit there, all through the day, in your home or office: handing out kindnesses like Christmas gifts, all year long. Your knots won't be able to resist the joy you plant. The winds that your yoga stirs up will flow so free.”