I have had issues with stress in the past… The reasons for this really are out of the scope of this blog but several years back I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I had just seen too much tragedy in too little an amount of time. Rather than processing and mourning I skipped past my pain. Eventually this pain caught up with me. It came out as a big ball of stress related meltdowns. It seems like a distant memory now. Looking back I can’t even really sort out why I was having such a hard time managing life. I spent a lot of time healing old wounds though. During this time of healing I was introduced to yoga and acupuncture. These two things helped me immensely. So did breathing. Really deep big full belly breathing.
Yesterday part of our focus in our teacher training was on our lungs and how we breathe. I am sure you all know that yoga has a BIG FOCUS on breathing. It is a huge part of the practice. Our instructor handed us a diagram from a PTSD site that showed how people with stress disorders breathe in their lungs. It really hit home with me. For almost a year my breath was shallow, going only into the top part of my lungs. This breathing is associated with the “fight or flight” response. And for that year all I was really thinking in my head was “RUN!!! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE”. Breathing. It’s important.
In yogic practices there are many exercises (pranayama) that focus on breathing. By practicing these breathing exercises a lot of knowledge comes out about how breathing effects our bodies and our minds. With different breaths we can heat or cool ourselves. Breathing can energize us or calm us. By changing our position or our focus area of breath we can massage our organs with breath. We can bring life back into areas of our body that have become deadened or numb. Breathing. It is wonderful. May we all take deep beautiful healing breaths today!