Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On The Road Again.....with Yoga

Three weeks.  That was the length of time the doctors estimated that my youngest son would be at U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor.  The drive would be almost an hour and a half each way to be with him, but I am his mom and that is what we do. Not going every day wasn’t even an option in my mind.  The first couple of days weren’t bad, getting used to the route, timing the traffic and Mother Nature was being kind to me with a mild end of November.  Then something happened just after a few days, I started to feel very tired, out of sorts, not feeling well at all. 

I panicked, I can’t get sick.  I have to be there for my son.  If I don’t go who will, the guilt kicked in (a combination of being female, Catholic and Italian, commonly know as the triple whammy). The next day, I got into my car and started to drive.  After a while, complaining to myself how bad I felt, I noticed that I had a vice grip on the steering wheel.  I noticed that my shoulders were up by my ears.  But most importantly, I noticed that I wasn’t breathing…at all.  That was it!  That is why I had started to feel off.  I wasn’t breathing. I wasn’t getting any oxygen to my brain.  My body was in shut down mode. 

Oh my goodness, here I am a yoga teacher and I forgot Yoga 101, first and foremost yoga is a practice of breathing.  Deep inhales and deeps exhales through the nose.  I started breathing in and breathing out.  I relaxed my body, softened my hands on the steering wheel and started to find my balance again.  I needed to meditate to help me center more, but driving west on I-94 (and not really observing the speed limit) wasn’t the place to do it.  So I improvised.  I turned off the radio and focused on my breath, watching it enter and exit my nose.  Sometimes I added a mantra or chant to the breath to help me stay focused.  It worked, even the night that it took me 2 ½ hours to get home in the rain. I started to feel better and continued to use this routine the remainder of my trips out to Ann Arbor.

We have to breathe, but we have to relearn how to breathe properly. Yoga will help us do that. When we are born we use the full capacity of lungs.  The older we get, we use less and less.  Most adults only use 30% and of what they do use, the breath tends to be shallow, jagged and sometimes non existence. 

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  You need to breathe as if your life depends on it and it does! There is an ancient belief that we are born with a certain number of breaths and if we breathe too shallow or rapid we may be knocking years off this precious gift of life that we have been given.

OK, where ever you are, what ever you are doing.  Notice your breath.  Breathe in and out through your nose and try to slow it down.  Watch your inhales become your exhale. We can’t take inhales and exhales at the same time so don’t rush it. Take your time. Find a rhythm….and just breathe.

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