My Mother lives primarily in her Sympathetic Nervous system. Decoded, this means, she is in a constant state of stress. Sometimes it is situational, but mostly it is due to years of unresolved emotional stress. Left to support two young girls alone, the fear and frustration manifested in her musculature as tight neck and shoulders, as well as shallow breathing. It is almost as if she hasn’t had a deep fulfilling breath since she was a child.
The current state of my mothers’ body is one riddled with pain from numerous surgeries including back and hand that has left her with almost no movement in her right palm and fingers. I often find it to be true that when one feels as though they have hit bottom, then the world begins to open. I believe this is because they are willing to try new things.
I have been involved with yoga for over 20 years, and it is just in the last one that my mom has decided to open the door. With one weekly class in her tiny town of about 1500 people, and a three month mediation challenge, not only has her mental stress reduced, she also has begun to FEEL her breath! It is not as though my mom never reverts to old patterns of behavior, the win is when she notices and realizes that it is something she can change. We recently took a trip to Sedona where I taught her Bridge Lifts to reduce her stress, which you can watch below and also in the 10 Minute Quick Fix Breathing and Stress Relief video.
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Thanks for sharing this parcel of your life and I also start two months ago doind this bridge pose for the breath and I love it ✨
I hadn’t tried doing bridges with arm lifts until recently, and it truly is a wonderful way to connect breath to movement!
Thank you for sharing your mom’s story with us! We practiced bridge lifts in a class just last week and learned about coordinating the breath and movement. Learning deeper abdominal breathing has helped me improve my work. Colleagues do not believe me that I can hear better when I breathe more deeply. I do simultaneous interpretation, so hearing the speaker’s every work is vital. By breathing more deeply I can hear better and also take the stress out of my voice when rendering my interpretation.
Powerful story, thank you for sharing Tiffany! I feel our nervous system gets so many mixed signals now more than ever, for example sitting promotes the parasympathetic system while being engaged in whatever is going on on the computer screen is exciting the sympathetic pathway, and the brain is left not knowing what to do. I’ve found at the end of a long day, the best way to find balance again is through my breath.
WOW! I must be your mother’s twin.. I am a whole bag of stress and anxiety and my nervous system is on guard 24/7. I have felt everything that you have mentioned above and I feel so connected to your blog. It’s true when you say: “Sometimes it is situational, but mostly it is due to years of unresolved emotional stress.” The things that we can’t put behind us and the things/people that we can’t seem to let go of, but especially the things that we don’t have closure with are long terms of unresolved issues and it’s the job… Read more »
So TRUE! I also recommend the leg sequence with a great yoga nidra. Worked for me today am gonna sleep like a baby:)
pranayama has been the cure for my sleepless nights. for the longest time i’ve had trouble sleeping. work-stuff stirring up the mind-stuff, it’s all stress related. i realized through my teacher training how little attention i put on my abdominal area when i’m breathing. breathing predominantly from my thoracic region, using only a fraction of my lungs and thinking it was only natural. through breathing exercises, i’ve learned the amazing effects of actually taking a full yogic breath, first filling my abdominal area followed then by my chest, inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply. my focus on the breath disengages… Read more »
Today after releasing my pec minor and subclavius with self massage using the YTU therapy ballS, I was able to have a more complete three part yogic breath. I could really feel the transition of the diaphragm descending, the rib cage expanding multi-directionally, and the breath lifting my sternum. Usually this is tight on me with all my sports activities that require the use of my pecs. I also noticed how my internal voice grew stronger after this transition as if I had just gotten something off my chest. Awesome.
I love this pose, thank you for posting it. We all know some one or have been in that state! Now that I have been practising Yoga for a few years my husband knows how to tell if I am feeling somthing that I don’t want to react to by how I fully slow down my breathing. So cool, it works though, you need not react just breath not always easy todo but that’s why we practise. Onto the homage you pay here with the bridge waves with breath, Just watching that makes me feel breath wave. I have experimented… Read more »
So happy your mother was able to open the door!! It’s not surprising that a fundamental movement like Bridge Lifts can translate into a movement that increases strength and flexibility, opens the chest and heart, promotes lung expansion, increases circulation, calms the nervous system, and reduces stress just by the addition of arms and…….conscious breath.
A regular breathing practice, whether through seated meditation or other pranayamic techniques can take the edge off chronic stress arousal. It’s difficult at first since sitting or lying down forces us to notice the anxious feelings in our bodies, but the results are worth the effort.
Huzzah!! what joyous triumphant news!!
how wonderful, Thanks for sharing
how many times will you hear your mothers voice in your own head now I wonder.
I wonder about that myself for the day when I become a Mother, oh boy……blessings abound x
T Lyn~ Thank You so much for your thoughtful response. Indeed, I have found that to be very true. Now that I am pregnant with my first child, a girl, it is my turn to be guided again. Many blessings to you! ~TIffany
I think these kinds of stories are the best parts of life. Your Mothers life and challenges and the subsequent state it put her in were no doubt your inspiration to find a healthier path for your own life. A curse for her was to become your gift. An even greater gift and gift of greater connection between you and your Mother is when you can then turn around and ‘teach’ her, guide her to a new understanding and love for herself through the lessons and path you have followed. Perhaps that is just the way it was meant to… Read more »
I forgot about Bridge Lifts. Thank you for the reminder – and the video.
Thanks for sharing your family story. I constantly have to remind myself that too much stress is so unhealthy for both our mental and physical health in the long run. Thanks for the reminder to breath!
This morning I tried to focus on my belly breathing and found it super difficult. I’m glad to know that understanding the importance of shallow breath as an indicator of “living in the sympathetic nervous system” can be a signal to me that something needs to change. What a great life tool to have!
This is great!
To be honest bridge pose and I did not get along very well before I started my teacher training. One week while I was hustling and bustling from yoga class to yoga class every teacher had a bridge pose sequence, WHY!!!??? I exclaimed. But what I also noticed during that tortures week that my stress levels of getting to class to class on time, finishing homework for my grad course, and still trying to maintain my personal relationship, my stress levels were very low. By the end of the week, everything that was needed to be done or that I… Read more »
This is a very calming exercise–thank you!
I am a mom of a young child who has a support system and I still feel anxiety sometimes. Just the reminder to breath is good for me. I have been trying to get my newly retired mom to do yoga. I am still trying… I like bridge pose. I will try to do that pose when I feel anxiety and remember to breath for all moms and daughters alike…
I was wondering if anyone has had any success with Reflexology? I tried one session on my feet and I don’t know think it makes any difference. Has anyone tried it and had any experiences with it?
In response to Jill D’s response: I also hold my breath when speaking in front of groups! And when I do remember to breathe, the breath is so shallow and high in my body that I have to take big breaths in order to get the next sentence out. It is a terrible feeling! There are stressful times throughout the day when I remember to breathe, but public speaking is not one of those times. It is an ongoing practice. 🙂
I’m not in a constant sympathetic state, however, I do stress out a lot. The YTU training made me realize how I experience clavicular breathing at these times. By doing the exercise we were able to see the CLEAR difference between clavicular breathing and belly breathing. I need to make a conscience effort to perform yogic breathing, as it will help me get through anxiety. This is also a great exercise to pass on to others because everybody experiences some type of stress in their routine lives.
One time… at Girls In Action Camp (yes, this really is a ”one time at camp” comment)… I thought there was a tick in my bed. I love me some interactive, harmonious ecosystems, but I can’t stand the idea of having a tick superglued to my skin, enjoying a DNA-tini on the house! Lights out: all the 8-year-old ladies are drifting to sleep or quietly giggling (about Jonathan Taylor Thomas) in the lower bunks, and I, imagining my uninvited shaker, start to shallowly huff and puff with my breathing to the point of light headedness. Eventually my hands & arms… Read more »
One time… at Girl’s In Action Camp (yes, this really is a :”one time at camp” comment)… I thought there was a tick in my bed. I love me some interactive, harmonious ecosystems, but I can’t stand the idea of having a tick superglued to my skin, enjoying a DNA-tini on the house! Lights out; all the 8-year-old ladies are drifting to sleep or quietly giggling (about Jonathan Taylor Thomas) in the lower bunks, and I, imagining my uninvited shaker, start to shallowly huff and puff with my breathing to the point of light headiness. Eventually my hands & arms… Read more »
This is a really great, accessible exercise. I have a co-worker currently going through a very stressful period the past few weeks and just complained today of feeling like she was having a panic attack and it was clear she was experiencing clavicular breathing. I am going to offer this exercise to help calm her sympathetic nervous system.
Until the YTU certification I had no idea how much I was breathing in my clavicle when I am not teaching my own classes and in a stressful situation. Everything we have done and learned in the last week, including the Bataan-death march of a journey it has forced me on to deal with my own stuff, has brought me back to square one on re-learning how to breathe. Now I can feel how much I am NOT breathing when not teaching and how on-alert my sympathetic nervous system is, as a result.
I don’t live in a constant sympathetic state, but my sympathetics rev up big time when I have to speak in front of a group. Awkward me kicks into gear and I pretty much hold my breath. I know I have to make a consious effort to BREATHE. I have learned how powerful the breath can be and I need to utilize it to so I can chill out and confidently articulate my thoughts.
My mother also lives in a constant sympathetic state. For her to feel safe she needs to be in the center of a tornado of her own creation. Some times she comes to my classes, and sometimes I massage her but she chats a mile a minute the whole time. I hope one day she finds just a little bit of peace.