In hatha yoga breathing, more emphasis is given to taking the breath in, but Alexander used to put the emphasis on the exhalation. And he is right, because a suppressed mind can easily take breath in but has difficulty in letting go of it, in releasing it.
It is easy for the suppressed mind to take anything in, but to release it is difficult. So a suppressed mind will become constipated in a way. Everything will be taken in and nothing will be thrown out. The body will begin to be greedy, it will begin to accumulate. Even the excreta cannot be thrown out. For this type of mind, the breath cannot be thrown out so easily.
Alexander worked for forty years. He developed a certain technique that is not related to yoga. He did not know anything about yoga – and it is good, because it meant that he had to find out many things through experience and through working with the bodies of Westerners.
In the West, much bodywork has to be done. Alexander and Reich did much to help. Now there are also many sensitivity groups working in America, helping to create more sensitivity in the body. It is needed, because Western bodies have become insensitive. You touch and the touch is dead; there is no feeling in it. You can even kiss without kissing, with no inner feeling to it. Sensitivity has been lost, but unless a body is deeply sensitive it is not alive.
The primary thing that has to be done is to make the body alive. So many different things have to be tried, but hatha yoga is not concerned with these things because it was developed for natural, primitive bodies. Primitive bodies are very alive; cultivated bodies are dead.
To be in the body means to be alive. I can use my hand just as an instrument, but then it is dead. I can move my leg as an instrument, but then it is dead. If “I” am not moving inside my leg, then the leg is dead. More sensitivity is needed now, so different postures have to be developed. And first, much catharsis is needed.
Someone was here, an American boy. He came to learn meditation. He had been wandering in and out of many ashrams in India, and then he came here. I told him, “Meditation cannot be started yet. Between you and meditation, there is a gap. You can go on learning techniques forever, but it will not help because you are not yet at the point where the journey can begin.”
So I gave him an exercise. He sat with me and I gave him a pillow and told him to beat it and to do whatever he liked to the pillow.
He said, “This is nonsense!”
I told him, “Do it! Start!”
The first day, he tried. In the beginning he was not very good at it, but by the end he was feeling much. He told me, “It’s absurd. In the beginning I had to act, but for the last ten minutes I have been feeling much.”