While teaching one of my senior privates recenty, she started off telling me how stressful her weekend was since she had some problems with co-workers. She needed something to help her to calm down.
I proceeded to do some very slow, 3-minute poses that help to unwind and regenerate. Half way through she told me that in the midst of her upset she realized that she wasn’t breathing. What a great realization! First hurdle, down! Then she went on to tell me that in her distress she couldn’t breathe even as she saw that she wasn’t breathing. Hmmm, I thought to myself. This told me that she was still harboring stress even though she had the insight of her lack of deep breathing.
In cases like this student, it is the lack of deep breathing that keeps her stuck in her emotional mess, locking her out of her body and away from true peace of mind. My clients are mostly fifty and older, successful type A personalities who rarely stop to eat, no less breathe. So, my new prescription for them is to TAKE A BREATHING BREAK.
When seniors start yoga, many of them have no concept of what it is to take a full breath. Starting to explore yoga later in life, their body is usually pretty well established in holding patterns and bad habits. Without a full breath, it is very difficult to get movement to penetrate into the upper thoracic/chest and side ribs. Because of this, the attempt to wake up the upper back, chest and ribcage becomes intellectual, contrived and distorted. When they begin to see how taking a deeper breath will reshape the architecture of their body, without a lot of effort, lights start to flash and big smiles are beaming.
Taking a breathing break is simple. Nothing is needed but awareness to stop and breathe for 5 or 10 breaths. So many students have the feeling that they need special props, a beautiful environment, or special talent to practice yoga but the breathing break only requires oneself and a quiet moment. It is available to every one regardless of what level of student they are.
Remember the Sanpalka ‘I am a student of my breath.’ It goes beyond the classroom, beyond the asana, but it is our very spark of life and we are simply harnessing a power that is going on all of the time.
I always want to enlighten my seniors on the common sense of yoga. During your breathing break why not experience how the Yoga Tune Up® pose Bridge Arms (standing or sitting) enhances your breathing break experience. Bridge Arms is a pose that embodies the elements of a backbend, but can be employed at any time, any place, and in any situation to partner with simple deep breathing, to bring you out of the slouchy mood, or just too much work and remind you to remember your breath and take that breathing break. It’s included in the second half of the video below and on the 5 Minute Quick Fix for Shoulders video.
I recently read a quote by an actor being interviewed. He was asked what was his favorite saying. He responded: “Breath in Breathe out… and repeat.”
Once every hour remember your breath, feel the energized transformation, the magic shift from chaos to calm and have a nice day!
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