Breathing Lessons

Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? - Mary Oliver

Here is a big secret: I just recently learned how to breathe.

What a funny concept. I am 30 years old. And essentially - my life depends on inhales and exhales. Except that for 30 years - I never really bothered to figure out the one physiological process that could literally save my life.

Note to self: we take a lot of things in life for granted.
I met yoga at a point of inflection that was very physical. The short version of my yoga story is that I came for the physical and stayed for the emotional. I was losing weight, finding a new physical body, and learning how to cultivate better muscle strength and tone.
Somewhere along the line, my relationship with yoga started to change, and especially as I have grown deeper into a Forrest practice, it has become something even more.  I'm not trying to escape anything. I'm trying to be...and I'm trying to BREATHE.
I need to breathe. Not just in a pose. I need to breathe into my own life. I have spent nine years hunched over at my desk - and over books for years before that. By the time I get to yoga, it can be a war of how I want to open my heart and pull up my chest - and what years of poor posture, fear, anxiety, and just the general physics of a desk job have done to my ability to breathe.

And lest I think it's in my head - I've never really met an instructor who hasn't picked up on this "need" for my practice to have bigger breath.


It's amazing what a real breath can do. And as far as taking my yoga off the mat - I have even taken to doing smaller versions of breathing exercises before big meetings or when I'm "having a moment" in my office at work. I make sure to take some big breaths every night before bed. It seems small - but the effect is big.

And if you practice breathing - you can start to actually "breathe into" parts of your body - like your chest, your heart, your quads - whatever needs more breath to get you through a moment or to nourish a particular part of your body. It took me a long time, but I am getting better.

I started doing it for yoga. And now I do it for my health. I feel better. I feel calmer. I have the ability to manage my emotions better.

And it was something I already had. It doesn't require any props.

I don't want to breathe a little - I want to breathe a lot. Into my poses. Into my life.