Yoga

Take my breath away

In a given day our minds race with all sorts of thoughts. Bills that are due, what will be for dinner, what to wear the next day. But is breathing ever a thought? Does it deserve a thought? It may sound like a question ridiculous to ask. Breathing is suppose to effortless, right? But what exactly is a breath suppose to be.

Breathe : to inhale and exhale freely; to pause and rest before continuing; to blow softly; to feel free from restraint.

For a few weeks I had been churning on this idea to post . The same night I was all set to post this was also a night I was eagerly chopping away and baking cookies. Rather than making cookies I ended up chopping my foot. Ok so that's a tad dramatic. My foot is still intact. Just to save any weak stomaches let's skip the details and say, the cut was enough for me to see my tendon. After looking down at my tendon first thought was, "Ok, now is a time to breathe." That and "I finally have a free night and all I want to do is curl up on my couch, eat my cookies and watch a movie!". The last thing I wanted to do was wait in urgent care. But this was no little cut my curious george band-aids could handle.

Luckily there is no permanent damage. Now with an irritated tendon that I actually shaved a string off of (sorry weak stomaches), a swollen foot and a slower,  and a somewhat limited yoga practice I need to just breathe. You might be thinking, " Aren't you already breathing ?" Yes, but maybe we're not always breathing as much as we could.  Just like, maybe I'm not alway sleeping as much as I should. Come to find out each day the average human being takes about 26,000 breathes. That's about 14,000 liters of air a day. 99% of our energy should come from our breathe, yet most of us only access 10-20% of that energy. Not only does breathing more deeply and often improve you well-being, but breathing shallow and incorrectly can produce more stress and fatigue in the body. Something to consider.
So take a moment and innhale real deep. Then slowly let it all out.How often do you think to breathe ?
While we often attempt to  control things in life that are out of our control, rarely do we take the time to control those things that are in our control. You have the ability to control your breathing and change your tension and state of stress. The only one taking your breathe away is you.
Better breathing tips:
1. Do yoga. Whether you do yoga for a complete workout, to mentally de-stress, or to stretch your muscles a proper practice in yoga will inevitably improve your breathing and reduce your stress.
2. Before you react... just breathe. We are quick to react when frustrated, nervous or upset. So remember to breathe and you may react more sensibly.
3. Set aside time to breathe better. Just like anything else in life, practice will bring improvement. Try to really focus on deep breathing for just a few minutes a day. Try Tara Stile's breathing routine or any of her chill out routines to breathe better.

Afraid to fall?

As a kid I was never athletic. I mean NEVER. Maybe I took gymnastics for a year or two. That didn't last too long before my fears sank in. Namely, the fear of doing anything athletic. Especially in public. Normally I just avoided sports, competition, and sometime even the outdoors. I know it sounds pretty "blah", right? I admit it, it was.  Being my "blah"-self, I simply called it “unathletic” and avoided such events. I just hated looking stupid, falling, or worse; I loathed being that person on the team who would  miss the ball and lose the game.

Yet through the years I have expanded my horizons a bit, trying some different activities: pilates, running, spinning. However most of these interests were for the sake of a better figure, not so much for the sake of experience. So yoga seemed a great fit. No comparing, no competing. It’s just you and your mat. And anyone that knows me, knows I like my space. Giving yoga a chance, I wasn’t expecting to gain anything beyond some flexibility. However learning Yoga has been and continues to be an experience. I’m not quite practicing yoga on the Himalayan mountains, but ...  learning from Tara Stiles I’m discovering to fully benefit from yoga, you’ve got to risk a bit.

As a kid I hated risks. I never did cartwheels or handstands. They scared me to death. At first I couldn't understand how some stuff in Yoga could be “so much fun.” After watching Tara effortlessly lift into handstands, forearm stands and all the other craziness she can do, I was eager to conquer these fears. Now through countless attempts, falls and  bruises - I finally get it. Sadly I’m just now experiencing some of the joys of being a kid.  Being upside down is fun! It’s fun, when it’s effortless. You should try it - going upside down. You might fall.  No, you probably will fall. Maybe you'll get a few nice shiners in the name of conquering your fears. But when you let it, it just happens. That’s the fun in it. We don’t have to try so hard.

Yoga is a practice you can’t force into happening. Sometimes you have to risk a fall here and there to discover new depths and heights. It’s forced me to see where else I could risk. Most of us could benefit from risking a bit more. Simple risks like cooking for others, even if you're not Martha Stewart. Or risking big, like in relationships or vocation. We aren’t created to force life into happening, but we are created to risk a bit.

Maybe you already have conquered handstands. Maybe you can’t and want to give it a try (check out Tara's "Turn it upside down" video). And maybe you could care less about handstands or yoga, for that matter. Either way risks can be fun. They even can make you feel younger. So try a going upside down. Risk a bit in life. It can be scary at first. But you just might explore some new heights, even if you do fall.