Monthly Musing – February 2020 – Breathe
I’m at my yoga class, twisting myself into whatever position it is and trying to stay upright (which takes more effort for some poses than others!), and I can hear my teacher saying something about breathing.
“Remember to breathe,” she says, which sounds obvious but quite often I find myself forgetting as I’m so busy concentrating, “Breath equals energy, breath is life!”
When I first started going to yoga classes and it all seemed too hard, telling me that “breath equals energy” was not really very helpful and I can remember thinking rather crossly, “Of course breath is life, we’ll die if we don’t breathe!”. Now, though, when I don’t have to concentrate quite so hard on what my arms and legs are doing, I can focus my attention on whether I am breathing or not and what my teacher says makes far more sense.
Of course we all need to breathe, that’s how we are designed, but the quality of our breathing varies a great deal during our day and even from person to person. Think about how you’re breathing now. Are you taking in proper deep breaths, breathing from the stomach to extend your diaphragm and fill your lungs, or are you taking shallow breaths, moving your shoulders but not much else? It’s so easy to get into that habit, especially when you’re sitting at the computer or knitting, as I often do. Going out with the dog generally makes me breathe properly, but these ferocious storms that we’ve been having over the last month have meant that I have been out of the house much less than I would normally be. Even if I can persuade the dog out of the door (for a dog that likes muddy puddles, he’s remarkably reluctant to set foot out into pouring rain!), we’ve both got our heads down and are hurrying to complete our walk as soon as we can. Taking deep breaths of air to expand my lungs and make the most of all that oxygen has just not been happening and as a result, I’ve felt much more tired and sluggish. My breath hasn’t created any energy, and I have felt the worse for it.
I decided quite a few years ago that I wouldn’t give anything up for Lent but I would instead do something new and positive. This year, I’m going to breathe. Even on the worst days, I’m going to stand outside the front door and breathe deep breaths to fill my lungs and expel all of the sluggishness that has been following me around over the Winter. If I can sit outside in a brief moment of sunshine with my cup of tea then so much the better, but if not, those few moments of fresh air and fresh oxygen will be enough.
It’s taken me some time but I do understand now. Breath does equal energy as much as we need to breathe to live. It’s something that’s built into us and we can have it for free. Keep breathing.