The ongoing trend with t-shirts that are hipster, clever, old school, political, regional, etc. caused me to pause when I recently spotted the one pictured here. My first thought was, “duh” but then I realized more and more we are approaching a time in history when we really do need to be reminded of the most basic necessities in life: kindness, patience, consideration, and oh, yeah BREATHING!
It’s something we’ve all been doing since arriving on this planet. In fact, I don’t know anyone currently walking around on this spinning globe not doing it. But how many of us are doing it with any thought that we are doing it? Or any thought of how much we need it? Or how valuable an asset it can be to every area of life? I realize under the category of “Adds Value To My Life” there are probably more things like vacation, foot rubs, free ice-cream and so on. I’d like to propose adding to whatever your value list is: just breathe.
Now, if you’re a fan of country music then you’re probably familiar with the gauzy-floating-on-a-bed-in-the-desert video for Faith Hill’s big hit “Just Breathe”. Much as I encourage desert floating and silky sheets on my bed, that isn’t exactly what I mean.
What I mean is Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. You would be shocked to learn how difficult that can be for some to accomplish. But there is science behind this and I can tell you from my own personal empirical evidence, it works.
Often I am asked about the ability to be in front of groups of people, large and small and everything in between: how do I do it? Simple – I breathe. I pause to take in what is right in front of me, put my awareness on the now, and then breathe. It’s how I can be present first and foremost for myself, and then for clients or students or strangers. It’s not a mystery and there’s no trick photography involved. It is my purposeful practice of breathing.
In yoga, Pranayama, or breath control, is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. I’m guessing one reason it doesn’t get as much publicity as other elements of the practice might be because it can’t be captured by a camera on a smartphone while the phone’s owner is on a rock overlooking an ocean nailing an insanely difficult pose. That’s just a guess. It might also be because it is not easy to sit quietly with yourself and put your focus on your breath.
Don’t misunderstand, I get it, I really do. We live in a time when a generation of Yogi’s are just so darn excited to have an excuse to wear stretchy pants everywhere and check the proverbial “Spiritual-Hipster-Box” for nailing their Downward Facing Dog. But, as I see it, it is more important than ever that teachers teach breathwork, not just bodywork. Our world needs calm minds and strong bodies.
So while I’m away from home and in an incredibly busy place with lots to do and few familiar things to ground me, I always have my breath. And to Miss. Maureen Hall-Ryder who, when I was 11 years old taught me to breathe (and sing) and to the numerous yoga teachers I have studied with and practiced with who also taught me to breathe, I bow in honor to each of you and only hope I am as capable and willing to teach others the necessity, vitality and strength of the most basic of life-forces and valuable assets: Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.