Wednesday, January 27, 2010


At 47, I am still learning how to breathe.
I've got the in and out part down, and I can trade off between my mouth and nose at will. but I'll be damned if there aren't times when the entire breathing process has a mind of its own.

in yoga we learn that the most important aspect of our practice is the breath, that if we lose the breath as we move through our sun salutations and asanas, then we may as well not be moving through them at all.
meditation teaches us to visualize the breath, use the breath to ground ourselves, focus on the breath to keep our awareness from wandering.
and Power Camp teaches us to use the breath to lower our heart rate, to be more efficient, to work at a greater intensity than we otherwise might.

one meditation technique I've been taught is to exhale for twice as long as I inhale: a 4-count inhalation would be held for 4 counts, then released over a count of 8. I find this challenging.
our Power Camp instructors tell us to---at those elevated heart rates---settle into a breathing pattern, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and that this will settle our heart rate, as well.

I've been hearing this, listening to this, attempting to practice this all for years.
and I am still a lousy breather.
better than I used to be, perhaps, but far from where I'd like to be.
I'm still breathless at the top of 2 flights of stairs.
I pant while climbing steep hills or riding in class in zones 4B and 5.
I can't keep my inhalation-exhalation pattern constant during sun salutation B.
and sometimes, in quiet moments, I catch myself suddenly taking a huge breath and thick, have I been forgetting to breathe? Do I have Middle Age Scattered Brain Apnea Syndrome ?

there are many things in my life I am still working to improve. every once in a while it's nice to acknowledge an area of expertise, some performance or function that is replete with skill and accuracy, that needs no more practice.
say, making jello, or folding pillowcases, or even brushing your teeth.
someday, I'd like to add the simple task of breathing to this list.

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