Lessons extracted from yoga: your breath

I am new to yoga but I notice parallels here and there that I find applicable to daily life, and which I’d like to share with you. One of the major elements in yoga is the focus on your breath. There are several aspects to breath in yoga. One really basic and seemingly simple one is to notice your breath. What’s not so simple though is that you have to learn to notice your breath first in order to change it or direct it at will.

Holding your breath. Have you noticed that you hold your breath when you’re in pain? Or when you’re going through something difficult emotionally? Or when in fear? Holding your breath will result in greater tension and pain than breathing throught it. The cause behind you holding your breath may be physical, emotional, or mental. It doesn’t matter. However, there is a physical effect on your body.

Shallow breath. Maybe you have noticed that you breathe more shallowly and quickly when you’re experiencing anxiety, a missed deadline, or panic. You cannot seem to ‘catch’ your breath. Maybe you are experiencing hyperventilation. Or maybe you’re getting ready to blow your top in order to release the tension and catch your breath.

Out of breath. You may notice when you’re ‘out of breath’ due to physical exertion. But the physical effect of being out of breath isn’t only due to physical causes, is it? Have you ever been so angry, that your chest is heaving and you feel like you’re going to explode? I think we’ve all been there. Seething. Boiling. Exploding. Out of breath.

Finding the triggers. The neat thing about learning to observe your breath actually is that you can also begin to catch the triggers in your daily life which cause you to react to hold your breath or clench your teeth or call yourself stupid. I think we generally can’t pin point to the stressors, and many of us walk around with this generalized anxiety. Maybe, as a result, you seek to self-medicate with wine, pills, or other drugs.

I bet – if you are an everyday person working 9 to 5 and taking care of family, you have too much on your plate and you are most likely holding your breath throughout the day. Maybe you’re a smoker and you feel relief when you smoke. Because? You are taking a deep breath, in and out, which leads to deeper relaxation. Is it that simple? Maybe. I leave it up to you to decide.

Paying attention to your breath is an undertaking which requires patient observation with lots of compassion for yourself. Be patient and take a deep breath. I think you may find it’s worth it.


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