Why We Breathe was a documentary that went viral across the United States in 2013. The film’s creators wanted to ask the question, why do you do yoga? Why keep doing it? Why do you love it?
These are all valid questions. Why do you do what you do in any industry? After watching the documentary I would agree with most yoga instructors interviewed that I initially began my journey for no simpler reason than the physical practice. I wanted to get into shape and try something new rather than spend endless hours in the gym.
I look back on the past as an evolution. From where it all began in a small recreation center in Chandler, Arizona to teaching in a yoga studio that I had the honor to launch with the Serendip Spa in Brussels, Belgium. My life changed. I not only moved to a different continent, but that person from before is not the same person I am now. I have learned to follow my heart and my passion. I have learned to breathe, to be patient, and have faith in that which is unknown.
I am not your traditional yogi. I was vegetarian for some time, but I longed for a more well-balanced diet, my body needed it. I’m social, when I go out with friends or am in a networking environment I occasionally indulge in a glass of wine or artisan beer. I believe in finding balance in all aspects of life and being aware. I teach students that the breath is not only a vital component in yoga, but it is also a vital tool in coping with the demands of everyday life. Without the breath of course we could not go on living; it’s a fact. Breathe, or prana, our energy, our life force is influential in dealing with stress, pain, anger, and sadness. We use the breath in a multitude of ways.
The breath allows us to be present, by focusing on inhaling and exhaling alone we are in the here and now. We so often get caught up in dwelling about the past or planning for the future that we don’t reside in our present body; we are not grounded.
Take a deep breath in. Fill your lungs, your diaphragm, your belly. Exhale it all out. You are bringing in new energy, filling your body full of life. On the exhale you are releasing anything that no longer serves a purpose. Release it all, exhale completely until there is no more air to be exhumed. You release anything causing you burden, stress, and anxiety. You do not need to carry that around with you. What is its purpose? There is no purpose in holding onto negative energy or extra baggage.
It sounds simple, too good to be true, right? It all comes down to the breath and the way you look at life. The little moments or the details in life make up the bigger picture, the grand scheme. It comes down to the simple act of breathing that can make the difference in how you deal with the moments. Imagine yourself on a plane sitting next to an infant crying in their mother’s arms. You have no where to go, you can either fester in your anger that the child is distracting or inhibiting you from your work or you can just be patient, breathe deep and know that the moment will pass. Allow the breath to calm the mind, clear your negative thoughts and analyze the situation more subjectively. The child is not trying to make life difficult, and once you take the moment, which the breath allows, you can look at things more rationally.
This is only one example. Say you are in a serious meeting with your boss and you are getting reprimanding for an act that you did not commit. Your heart rate is increasing and you become defensive. If you were to go with your instincts you may bite back and say something that shouldn’t be said, but if you wait a moment and just breathe, you can take the time, it may be just mere seconds, or longer, a dramatic pause, but with time you can respond constructively with a mild manner and confidence.
The breath and controlling the mind can make all the difference in our life’s perspective and our happiness. Let the breath guide your everyday and embrace the moments.