Tag Archives: Breathing

Aging Gracefully into 62, Part 3 – Breathing, the Nano Stretch with Mucho Effect

22 Apr
Rosetta, Fiction Novel

Rosetta, Fiction Novel

Aging Gracefully into 62, Part 3 – Breathing, the Nano Stretch with Mucho Effect

The logistics, physically and emotionally, of returning to work as a senior.  Commuting, snacks, sleep, and more.

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Pictured to the left, “Rosetta” – fiction.  From being fit, to having a full knee replacement, back to the courage of feeling good again.

Please check my Author Page Listings for locations.

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“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”

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Fitness ** Arts ** eBooks

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Breathing, the Nano Stretch with Mucho Effect

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Other “Aging Gracefully” Related Links

“Aging Gracefully” – Original Inspirational Poetry

Aging Gracefully into Mother’s Day – Original Poetry by Felipe Adan Lerma

Himalayan Institute : “Aging Gracefully” : An Article for All Ages – Review

Press Release – “Nice Thing ‘Bout Getting Old(er)” – Articles, Reviews, & Creativity in Aging

Aging Gracefully into 62, Part 1 – Back to Fitness

Aging Gracefully into 62, Part 2 – Returning to Work as a Senior

Aging Gracefully into 62, Part 3 – Breathing, the Nano Stretch with Mucho Effect (in progress)

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Finding Gratitude, Sheila

Finding Gratitude, Sheila – The Breath Expanding Into the Soul

This is an older photo from another article when we were staying in Galveston.

The article is on gratitude, posted in May 2011.

Letting oneself expand with one’s own breath can be a challenge.

Doing it on the seawall does have its advantages. ;-)

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Our Breath

Two things come to mind immediately regarding why our breath is so important.

One, it means we’re still alive on this Earth. ;-)

Two, it can be done nearly anywhere, any time.  That’s big.

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Dynamic vs Static Stretching

Ok, what’s this got to do with breathing?  Was this supposed to be in another article?

Well, it could be in another post, but I am deliberately comparing what the intake of breath does, to a dynamic stretch, versus what is typically thought of as a static stretch.

A light static stretch is a great relaxing stretch of our arms and legs and torso and really all over, that is usually recommended after a great workout.

It helps the body cool down, helps lower our working-exercising blood pressure, and sure feels good. ;-)

Whatever is being stretched is held in place gently, and allowed to relax and reset to a less exerted exercise expectation.

A dynamic stretch is a gentle limbering movement.  It warms up the muscles and makes more strenuous movement easier.

This latter stretching is still smooth, not jerky or ballistic.

Breathing, I’ve come to believe, is a combination of static and dynamic stretching.

To me, in the micro – nano level, the inhaled breath feels like it stretches the body to its range of motion, expanding the fascia and muscles, loosening tension spots.

While, in the macros – whole body area, the inhaled breath seems to aid and create a relaxed static state of rest.

The breath, our breath, is the best of both worlds, simultaneously. ;-)

Thus, breathing, is the nano stretch with mucho effect!

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Mouth or Nose Breathing

I never realized this was even a topic of contention until I resumed my interest in learning and doing yoga, starting with my yoga teacher certification training with Lex Gillan in Houston.

During a morning meditation training session, when the topic of mouth vs nose breathing came up, I asked what I should do during one of my usual congested periods.  At the time I was living in Galveston, which is bad enough for pollen, but am now in Austin, which is much worse!

His very good humored answer was, since we had to to live, was breathe any way we can. ;-)

Common sense and his acceptance, embracing, and teaching of the various modes of yoga practice made my choice of having him as my initial yoga trainer a very good decision.

So regarding breathing through your nose or mouth, whether in yoga or any other activity, do what you need to first, then experiment for effect when you are ready. ;-)

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General Benefits of Good Breathing

There’s tons of good info on why breathing, and breathing more correctly, is good for you.

Yoga Journal has many articles, even on how to check (at a easy minimal level) to see how well you’re breathing.

A Google search of the benefits of improved breathing is really useful.

MindBodyGreen has a nice article on how to vary the length of your breathing to relax, saying:

When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system.” (emphasis in article)

Dr. Andrew Weil has three differing breathing exercises on this page, one for relaxing, one for invigorating, and one for mediating; and one uses nose only while another includes the mouth.  Now that’s useful variety. ;-)

Varying my Google search to “breathing counts” brings up even more suggestions!

Here’s a list of 18 benefits of deep breathing.

And here’s a final Google search for the physiological benefits of exercise, which, for me, almost always included breathing more completely and fully.

As I mentioned in the first post in this series of aging gracefully into age 62, getting fit again was the key to enjoying doing and being able to do things that make life more satisfying.

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Conclusion, Last Thoughts

Breathing, the Nano Dynamic Stretch even in a Static Pose

It’s been a couple of years now since I first began again paying any in-depth attention to my breath.

And I am continually amazed how much I become aware of within myself.

The sense of surprise I felt recently, that my body is literally doing a micro nano dynamic stretch (reaching for one’s range of motion in that stretch), as I stand or sit or lay in a static restful pose, is still very much with me, and is the impetus for this third and final posting on aging gracefully.

Or at least trying to. ;-)

Try this:

Stand or sit calmly still.

Place the palms of your hands on each side of your rib cage.

Inhale softly and slowly and easily.

Feel your chest cavity expand.

Visualize and know, in reality not just symbolically, that your ribs expand apart, because there are muscles between them that allow that!

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Easy to Do Anywhere

And breathing is not only necessary, it’s so easy to fit in and do anywhere.

Waiting in line at the store, or any of the other number of “lines” we seem to be in. ;-)

Sitting in freeway traffic.  Yes, know that one well!

Laying in bed waking up.

Or going to sleep.

Or resting.

And if you watch a baby, like our new grand baby Max ;-) whether they’re exerting, sleeping, or eating – they’re breathing. ;-)

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Holding My Breath

I know, growing up, especially in school, playing hide-n-seek or hoping the teacher wouldn’t “pick” on me, I held my breath.

But the habit of  holding my breath is probably not a good idea.

Actually, people expect you to breath. ;-)

So often, it was just me – being self-conscious, about taking my breath.

And ok, I admit it, I’m still kinda wondering if someone’s staring, making fun of me, if I take a deep (needed) breath.

But I’m trying.  One breath at a time. ;-)

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Next Posts

Next up, my Paris Photo series.

Not immediately, as I need to choose and prepare the images.  But that’ll be fun.

Thanks so much for coming by ;-)

adan

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blessings everyone

namaste´- con dios – god be with you

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101 Sports Poems – Original Poetry

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Opening a View of Gratitude

26 May

“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”

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opening a view of gratitude

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Intro

gratefulness, for me, like most things in life, is a continuum and a process…

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Adan Lerma

Adan Lerma

some things i’ve always had gratitude for, some things i’m learning a gratefulness of, and some things i’ll just be grateful i learn of them at all…

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Impetus

a recent post by kristin shephard on her yoga journal blog “beginner’s mind” got me thinking about gratitude during savasana, then in general…

her article, “gratitude admist chaos,” even if you’re not familiar with live community theatre, is worth a wry-smile and read ;-)

in her article, kristin describes some of the “chaos” and how her practice of savasana helped her cope with directing the play :

“Here’s what I’m grateful for: Hours before this bedlam began, I was on my living room floor in Savasana, thinking, ‘Thank you, thank you, for everything that happens today.’ No matter how chaotic the day becomes, I will be back on my living room floor tomorrow morning, saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, for all of this…’

“It’s because of this, I think, that I never feel lost in the chaos. The nuttiness feels temporary, superficial, and less jarring than it used to. It is something I’m doing, not something I am…

“Has yoga given you this?”

the whole concept appealed to me, and i responded :

“having done outdoor-amphitheatre and community theatre in the past, for nearly 10 years, with all three of my kids in tow at various times in the shows, i can, now, pleasantly relate ;-)

“however, your description of your use of and for savasana, i hadn’t thought of or come across, i really really like it (kinda like liking sally fields at all her academy awards ;-) )

“i wanna think on it, dwell on it, practice, then introduce it into my own classes

“thanks so much! sincerely,

“adan”

so i did, i thought about it, dwelled on it, practiced at home, then introduced it into my class, as a variable

this is what i came up with

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The Process

First Foray

i’d already introduced the practice of visualization, as a variable to choose in pose work, in my classes, and my idea was to now incorporate the notion of gratitude

Gratitude, Sheila, Beginning

Gratitude, Sheila, Beginning – Original Photography Adan Lerma

within the simple movement of prayer hands from the heart up and outward -

(what some call the beginning of a swan dive; plus recognizing some people’s outward hand/arm movement would not go above their heads due to blood pressure concerns) -

images that brought the person something positive were suggested -

a brain smile, a small smile, a chuckle or laugh, a grin, lighted eyes…

whatever they saw, and saw as something positive for them

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The Window

breaking down the hands-to-the-heart and beginning of a swan dive movement, the outstretched arms and hands seemed a nice place to pause and rehearse what might be visualized – and visualized as something positive -

we began with opening drapes from a second floor window -

and seeing something pleasing -

Gratitude, Sheila, Searching

Gratitude, Sheila, Searching – Original Photography Adan Lerma

children playing, greenery and flowers, nearby branches with chirpy birds, an outstretched ocean…

we repeated this segmented movement three times, each time holding our chest-opening arms wide a few breaths longer than before, each time imagining feeling calmly surprised how the scene seen through the window was as nice or nicer than before…

- that the pleasing scene was still there each time we looked through that window

- that one was glad (grateful) it was so -

and upon closing the curtains felt assured one could depend on seeing something good, again…even if only in our fun playtime together there…

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The Skylight

the class, in the following session, repeated the same idea, but this time opening a lacy gauze of curtain to an easily reached skylight -

seeing a beauty of a morning sky with lightly streaked cotton wisps of clouds -

followed by a softened sunset of changing reds and pinks and yellows -

and finishing with the deepest star filled night remembered…

each sequence again held a few breaths longer -

again growing grateful for the continuity

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Self Initiated

adapting the open-arms open-heart movement posture, and letting each person further adopt their own images, gave results like :

- finding keys that’d been mis-placed

- coming across a grandchild’s lost toy

- seeing money on a shelf

- spotting a favorite food

- remembering a scent or smell of something special

it’s endless of course, as it should be if it reflects living in our world ;-)

the only requirement was they had to fashion something from feeling good

it’s hard to be grateful for anything, without that confirming caress from our hearts

Gratitude, Sheila, Finding

Gratitude, Sheila, Finding – Original Photography Adan Lerma

and it’s harder still, but necessary, i think, to have the mind agree, even if it only’s agreeing to accept on faith what the heart has found ;-)

home, i like to think, is where the heart and mind agree…

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Savasana

it seems anti-climactic, and maybe in a good way is and should be, but by the time the visualizations above and others were introduced and experienced, all that remained in savasana, was to allow each person time to be and decide their own things to be grateful for

when a window opens that’s been good for us, or cupboard doors pull apart revealing what enchants us, or our smile gazes through opened gauze-lace at the night-cooled stars -

what would you see? what would you find?

that you are grateful for?

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for me, it was to have found a time and age, to appreciate teaching -

for having classes, my classes…

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Chaos and Comfort Found

Synergy

kristin’s post, which gave impetus to this post, was keyed on gratitude amongst chaos

ironically, or synergistically maybe, as i prepared my own article, two other related posts went up; also keyed on chaos, equally recognizing redeeming point-of-views

finding comfort in chaos” by nikki, at her blog site live.love.yoga is one, with chaos and comfort and images of homemade children’s treats that leave you smiling ;-)

and the other is, “#365: day 140 flower” by nancy at her new flyingyogini site, who is equally at ease and comfortable when in the swirl!

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My Own Blog

chaos and gratitude ;-)

i’d be remiss if i didn’t acknowledge my own whirlwind wind-down windup of our move to vermont in less than a week

Sheila, Gratitude

Sheila, Gratitude – Original Photography Adan Lerma

i’d also be misleading if i said i felt as comfortable as the ladies above in continuing the pace sheila and i have had the past few months -

leading and learning in yoga classes, sorting and packing and donating decades of details, coordinating movers while moving addresses and passwords…

i’ll take the easy pass on this one, and claim the soft couch of simply getting old(er) ;-)

i know, barring the unknown i can’t know but accept, i’ll recover my second wind i left in the hall cupboard, but usually find, ’bout half way into those extending open-arm breaths -

and be ever so grateful when it’s time for my savasana, my return to resting pose…

namaste – con dios – god be with you


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I (used to) Drink More Coffee Just to Breathe More Air – My Yoga-to-Dance aha! Moments! – # 6

9 May
Nice Thing 'Bout Getting Old(er) - Articles, Reviews, Creativity

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“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”

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i (used to) drink more coffee just to breathe more air – my yoga-to-dance aha! moments! – # 6

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i (used to) drink more coffee just to breathe more air

post (official) mother’s day, sheila and i resume our texas to vermont prep with appts in austin

after our pre 8am initial chore of the day, off for coffee & breakfast

i used to drink coffee all day, even thought for a while i could successfully drink away my over-do-coffee-drinking via decaf ;-( yuk ;-)

now i enjoy my morning coffee

this morning, my hot coffee, away from home, was especially tasty

the aroma & special blend at our fav tex-mex cafe in south austin, curra’s grill, was perfect with their famous breakfast tacos

Aromas, Coffee and Breathing

Aromas, Coffee and Breathing - Original Photography by Adan Lerma

my first sip was welcomely familiar – from the old days ;-)

hot & fresh, i backed away, took a deep pausing breath, then carefully sipped again, and an older familiarity, from the old-old days hit me

i realized, my way to breathe more deeply back then, was to slurp more air in as i sipped my coffee!

after i cut my all-day coffee binges back to mornings, when i enjoy it most, i slowly got the habit of breathing in the aroma in a full breath between sips

i knew i was substituting a breath for another drink of coffee, excess coffee

i didn’t know then how important those new deeper breaths were for me, wasn’t aware how they grounded me in myself

yoga wasn’t teaching me this formally -

yoga as life, correcting-enhancing itself in me, was…

what’s remarkable to me, now that i’m more consciously involved with yoga, is how yoga helped me, so suddenly, be aware of all this that i write of today

yes, wake up and smell the roses, uh, coffee ;-)

definitely the dance of life…

namaste – con dios – god be with you

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yoga to dance aha! series


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Yoga Breathing – Nose? Mouth? or Both?

6 Apr
Nice Thing 'Bout Getting Old(er) - Articles, Reviews, Creativity

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“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”

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yoga breathing – nose? mouth? or both?

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basically, if this was only a question of beliefs, or philosophy, or even spiritual teachings, then my stance would simply be, that’s up to you ;-)

freedom of religion as a belief system, is fundamental to our country -

and constitutionally separate from the “state” -

so, my position, rests on fitness…

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me me me ;-)

what do i need to be able to do the routines that provide my foundation of health to let me share more than heart felt wishes for the people around me and to myself?

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Basics

afaa, in their group fitness certification text book, “fitness, theory and practice,” provides some nice pages comparing differences between typical western fitness routines, pilates, and yoga

breathing is one of the comparison / contrasts

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it appears that not holding one’s breath is agreed by all…

First Breath Connections

First Breath Connections

and, generally speaking -

it appears that the main difference is in regard to the exhalation -

while yoga has traditionally taught nostril breathes for both the inhalations and exhalations  [1] , fitness theory and pilates emphasize exhalations through the mouth

the idea, i believe, is two-fold:

increase the air way for greater air movement

increase the ability to eliminate toxins and waste material

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yoga, on the other hand, as i’ve heard or seen it taught (early 21st century u.s.a.) -

seems to feel that, if you have to exhale via the mouth, too much exertion or other problems (too much stress, not enough peacefulness, etc) are occurring

that these type exhalations are a signal to stop or change one’s activity

changing one’s activity is usually thought of as slowing down

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but for me, these are simply variations on intent

for example, if in playing my “edge” (the apparently yogic-correct way of saying being assertive or self-goal-competitive) i determine my edge is receding and i can push further, there may be a short period of further physical conditioning (days? weeks?) where i simply need more air -

or need to expel more co2 -

i would never have reached my “intent” to be able to enjoy the level i enjoyed jogging in my 20′s and 30′s, if i had ceased my efforts when i couldn’t “only” breathe through my nose

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i’ve thought about this question of the breath since way back -

back to the days when wild turkeys (this is in houston!) would chase me on my bicycle with training wheels and i learned early what ray long is talking about in his chest expansion articles ;-)

back to my junior high sprinting days when i learned a full belly of pizza, and wind sprints didn’t go well together -

back to moments of grief when heaving was the only way to breathe, period…

i’ve been aware of my breath in varying ways and wondered about it for many years, but without anything more than vague wonderings to grasp to…

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More Recently

…as i re-examined yoga in light of the current fitness information available, that old style yoga adamancy i remembered from the early 70′s, that only one style breathing was appropriate for yoga, came roaring back  [2]

yet lately, it seems like several posts, either brought the subject up explicitly, or that even simple yoga movements kept bringing the subject up to me again for attention

More Breath Connections

More Breath Connections

jill miller’s yoga tune up video (short simple very effective routine & video) -

adding arm movements to bridge pose, co-ordinated with the inhale and exhale -

evoked almost an ache to ask, again, why why why the “how” regarding exhalations and inhalations

core power yoga has a nice article from last dec speaking more directly to my issue, saying “More importantly, the body’s movements…then put your nose to do if you are able to….”

so some people were challenging the notion of one pathway for the breath

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Pros Regarding Nostril Breathing

undoubtably there are many pluses attached to pure nostril breathing, among them:

filtering the air more adequately than via the mouth

warming the air more completely before it enters the lungs

regulating the oxygen / carbon dioxide flow

calming the mind and heart

serving as a signal when exertion of mind or body creates a need for more pronounced breathing effort

reported astral or subtle energy or spiritual effects  [3]

so what could i quibble with that?

not much really ;-)

it’s the when and why i have trouble with…

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My Quibble, Individuated Practice

i’ll leave aside i have a deviated septum, since that’s just me ;-)

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i’ll start with my “why” of why i quibble with nostril-only breathing

let’s say, to begin with, i grew up in houston, worked summers outdoors since i was a young teen, and have known years of months of 100+ days

and no, it wasn’t a dry heat, even in austin ;-)

so “warming” the breath is like putting the ac on in vermont in the winter (my wife’s from vt and i’ll take her word for it ;-))

filtering the nose?

well, gotta admit, with the allergies i have and the pollutants in the air, that’s probably a good idea, but nostril breathing’s not gonna filter out enough pollen or smut to make enough difference for me -

yet, staying aerobically active, in any aerobic activity, does…

third eye activation?

well, for better or for worse, since my more playful experiments in the early 70′s, i’ll leave this effect for those more inclined to pursue this

if there’s truth to this, it’ll come to me in its own best time, and i’ll be waiting for it ;-)

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Breath Connection

Breath Connection

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more important for me then, is the “when” of nostril breathing

like, all the time? really?

true, it may be a great discipline builder, and probably was, in its time

and believe me, if taking full deep breaths via my nose does the trick, yah! for me ;-)

but if not, and i need air, or need to expel it, i do…anyway i can

there’s lots of good info supporting this stance in fitness theory – i believe one day, probably in my lifetime (i’m 60) the separation of fitness theory and the promise of yoga, will be seen as having been, just another illusion ;-)

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Closing Thoughts, uh, Breaths ;-)

my closing thought involves another early memory of the importance of my breath

age 9 or 10, i was having occasional dreams of drowning -

it was no co-incidence i was learning to swim at the neighborhood public pool, and had carefully been avoiding any depth deeper than the height to my nose ;-)

i’d slid my way along the pool’s rounded tiled edge, skirting my fear by pretending not to notice i’d slipped past my safe depth,and  joined my friends already playing push-pretend; once among them, i forgot my fear, all of us playfully pushing and pulling each other along the slick sun shimmered wet of the pool’s busy edge til a push unseen sent me into deeper water than i wanted to be in to be sinking in to be not-breathing in

i remember staring wide eyed at the clearness of the water, i could see kid’s feet dog-peddling, numbered markings on the pool floor, and my arms and legs rising slowly as my back led me lower

i remember thinking – i’m gonna die i went to confession that morning i was clear no hell for me, i relaxed

my feet touched the firm pool floor

and gently

pushed me to air

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i knew instinctively, that my faith in having no sin, saved me

i also knew, less instinctively, more guiltily, it was my belief that gave my faith its power to save me – it felt like cheating ;-)

all i’d had to do was believe, and i could breathe

would i be so fortunate all my life ;-)

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yoga, my yoga, is like that

fortunate in my life, allowing me to breathe more fully – when i believe i can, i do

allowing me to breathe between the sea of feelings and worlds of thought

helping me join what feels like art with what i know is science

letting me picture a pose, pristine in my poised mind

connecting concept with ligament and bone

caring that i’m whole

my yoga is integrating the art of living with the tissues of the living

my yoga says i can breathe any way i need, when i need, so…relax, and breathe….

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late postscript

one of the better breath articles i’ve come across recently, appealing to me on several levels – knowledge, breathing reference tie-ins to our everyday language, and most importantly for me, it’s balanced reasonable presentation, is judy lasater’s article on yoga journal online, “breathing lessons

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The Breath Connected

The Breath Connected

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namaste – con dios – god be with you


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footnotes

[1]  exceptions in yoga show up in particular breathing exercises

i couldn’t find a nice comprehensive listing of the various exceptions allowing mouth-exhalations, but a search among various google searches, like this one, has them showing up in scattered form

exceptions include, the ohm meditative sound, the victorious breath, deep cleansing breaths, and the golden thread exhalation

[2]  was this the fabled “lion’s breath” ?

not quite, not much tension relief going on there ;-)

[3]  my intent in this article is in regard to fitness yoga and the arts, and i assume each person has beliefs they pursue, so i leave the detailing of what these other effects may be to each person


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