What comes to mind when you hear the word “breath?” Do you have a memory of getting the wind knocked out of you when you did a belly flop in the pool? Or holding your breath when you were scared? Do you hear the words “I can’t breathe” that have become a mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Last night Shakti Yoga students gathered at Gateway Market for a conversation about breath. There were 11 of us around the table. I started off by asking everyone to write down what they think of when they hear the word “breath.” The answers were diverse, but most common was “life.”
Sandy Gustafson reported on what she’s learned during the months since we decided on the topic. Here are links to some of the resources she shared with us last night.
Keep your mouth shut
When Joseph Schneider told me I breathe through my mouth a lot, I was horrified! And in denial. But then I paid closer attention to my breathing while I practiced yoga. I had to admit that yes, I was breathing through my mouth. A lot. Then he loaned me this book, with a sticky note marking the chapter on mouth breathing.
I swear reading this chapter kept me awake for two nights, and sent me in search of medical tape to keep my mouth closed when I sleep. Keeping your mouth closed can help with snoring and sleep apnea! Who knew?
Something we take for granted, do from the moment we’re born to the moment we die, is way more complicated than I ever knew.
There’s always more
I tend to think of things like breath in broad strokes. Brette Scott offers a monthly “Energy Tuneup” at Shakti that focuses mostly on the breath. It’s really quite interesting and the sessions I’ve attended definitely shifted my energy.
This photo reminds me of the yoga pose Tadasana, or Mountain Pose. It can be rigid and stiff, or there can be a lot going on inside, including deep, controlled breathing.
Lisa Acheson shared a lightbulb moment when she learned she needed to soften her very focused breath. Working on it too hard had become detrimental to her body. Just like anything, finding the middle is a lifelong project. Breathing deep, softening, moderating, relaxing–all practices for life.
I came to a deeper understanding that the subject of breath is broad, but also particular, and integral to everyone’s life. Well, duh.
These conversations always remind me that there’s still so much to learn, and I can still improve my life and health even as I age. It’s not just good for our bodies but also our brains to learn and think about stuff in different ways.
Using my breath to come back to my body and link it up to my mind is an important part of my mindfulness practice.