Yoga teaches me how to breathe. It’s incredible to me how much I actually hold my breath in exercise as well as in my day to to day activities. My shoulders begin to creep towards my ears when stressful situations take hold of me. I begin to involuntary sigh deeply – it’s my body telling me to breathe. An old work colleague used to get so annoyed with me during busy stressful times of work because she said she could always here me sighing. I had forgotten to breathe my way through the hard stuff.

Yoga connects me with my breath. It is the focus – not the exercise, but the breath. When I am under stress I can’t take it out on a hard long run – instead I want to crawl into bed and sleep or sit on the couch and stare at a cheesy magazine. But these are temporary fixes. There is something about movement, getting the hear rate up in a healthy way that begins to release stress. And I believe it has everything to do with just making yourself breathe.

I went to yoga this morning after a very hard and low week for me. This week I forgot to breathe.

I love yoga. As complicated as it seems it is actually quite simple. We gather together to share in movement, in instruction, and in breath. All moving along at our own pace. This group exercise is about being individually focused. True yoga is not about the pose, it is about breathing into a pose or a movement. It is the breath that is primary. When I forget to breathe, I get sidetracked by performance or a wobbly pose, I hear the person next to me moving to their breath and it reminds me to breathe.

Life is made up of our breaths, for without them we no longer exist. When I begin to lose my way what brings me back to peace is simply deep slow breaths. This morning in our first few deep breaths I found it so hard to take them slowly and open wide – but by the end of class those deep slow breaths had returned.

So just a word of encouragement to anyone out there under stress – don’t forget to breathe. It is the most simplest yet universally connected way to move through the ups and downs of life.

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