Breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. 28,800 times a day. Usually without effort or thought. Usually.
We all have those days where it’s hard to breathe. You can’t catch your breath, you are late and racing to get somewhere, you count to ten to quell a temper, you hold it in yoga to seemingly get deeper into a pose when in reality it stymies you. We get stuck. What makes you hold your breath?
When my Mom was terminally ill, every day felt like a failure and I would hold my breath so I wouldn’t cry in front of her, in front of anyone. There were alot of no breathing days in those four months. That started a pattern for me that continues to this day: when I get upset or frustrated, or when I’m trying to do something that’s really hard, I hold my breath. It’s learned behavior. So how do we unlearn it?
One way is through Pranayama. Pranayama is breath work. Literally it means prana (life force or breath) and yama (regulating or causing a break). When we tune in to our breath we knowingly break our normal breathing pattern. And when we do that, we bring our attention back to the our internal rhythm and begin to notice the subtleties of movement in our body, and in our lives. A shift here, a change there.
To paraphrase our wonderful teacher Saul David Raye and his thoughts on breath:
Inhaling is the Nourishment
The pause, that space between is the absorption
The exhale is the release, that moment of letting go
The pause before your next inhale is the void; the feasting, the savoring of your breathe.
Again and again.
It may not happen overnight, but acknowledging the breath may change your patterns and how you feel and think. And remember:
it’s okay to have someone or something take your breathe away. Just remember to bring it back.