You know the feeling, when your heart begins to race and you just can’t catch a breath. Your chest tightens, and suddenly your breathing becomes very fast and shallow. Breathing has a profound effect on our entire mind-body system. I can remember, years ago, while going through traumatic and stressful time in my life, my cousin, Tom, told me over the phone, “Just breath.” He had me breathing long rhythmic breaths over the phone loud enough that you would think I was Darth Vader. It was the act of simply breathing that slowed down my heart palpitations and allowed me to become present and calm.
According to Yoga Ed Founder, Tara Lynda Guber, “The ability to breathe fully and deeply builds strength, health, presence, calmness and focus. The more you fuel the brain and the body with oxygen, the better it functions.” Guber adds that, “Conscious breathing brings us into balance.” When doing yoga postures, one can feel the body's own internal stress and tension begin to subside. Yoga stimulates the body and mind and activates mind-body coordination. Yoga poses help each person develop stamina, flexibility, focus, coordination, balance and awareness. Yoga can be done anywhere, from your home, park, beach or studio with just a mat and is one of the best methods of improving one’s health and attitude.
Yoga brings that vital life-force into our lives that allows us to develop and practice personal responsibility for our well-being in mind, body and spirit. It teaches us to take care of our self; rest, regroup and release whatever tensions or stresses are filling our minds and bodies at the moment. It’s a wonderful way to take a time out for our own benefit. Life can present to us many challenges that, at times, are unbearable including: terminal illness, bereavement, divorce, unemployment, homelessness, or working in a toxic environment. These are deemed major stressors in life and can cause havoc on our well-being, confidence, health and attitude. Yoga postures and breathing can help us ground ourselves and increase our ability to manage these stressful times. Yoga also helps us build self-confidence by developing a good habit of slowing down and looking inward for strength and answers.
While the outside world can be very challenging at times, remember that by incorporating yoga and breathing into your daily routine, these challenges - whether they be people or situations - are the teachers who help us learn how to respond and act, not react. Stepping back to view the situation from a non-emotional viewpoint allows decisions to be made from a calmer state of mind, which is in one’s own best interest. This is not always an easy task to accomplish, but as each situation arises it brings us closer to building strength, self-confidence and knowing our inner truths. There is a yogic saying I love and hold close to my heart: “How others treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” Right now, allow the yogic breath to be your point of de-stressing and finding you from the inside out. Relax, rejoice and rejuvenate! Namaste.
Toni Reidel has been a certified group fitness and personal trainer since 1987, and 200-hour yoga instructor since 2008. She has been using Yoga postures, breathe work and incorporating Patanjali's Yoga Sutras - Eight Limbs of Yoga - into her life for the last eight years. She is also certified through Yoga Ed. to teach yoga to At-Risk Youth for Trauma and Stress, Yoga for PTSD, grief, anxiety and depression.