It is amazing what fifteen minutes of yoga can do.
I did not have a good morning. Everything seemed to go wrong. I dropped numerous plates, the oatmeal burned because my hair was tangled. The man on the bus stepped on my foot and smelled of last night’s adventures at a strip joint. The old woman beside me was more inclined to breathe in the man’s stench rather than open the window. Needless to say I came to work very stressed. I made the decision to do some breathing exercises on the school lawn instead of the usual email checking before the 9 am class.
It made my day.
I took off my shoes and socks, stood in the mountain pose, and immediately felt myself rooting to the ground. I felt my first chakra waking up. I try not to scare people away with the chakra talk but I am starting to really understand and trust the system. But that’s another post. I felt myself rooting and relaxing. I felt the cool morning grass slightly tickling my feet. I started to feel one with the ground. I began to calm my thoughts.
I changed to the lotus pose and attempted to do a short mediation. I listened to the birds and to the distant Korean megaphone. My now-irrelevant worries of the morning drifted away. I then realized that I wasn’t focusing on the breath and quickly changed that. What a difference that made! There is regular breathing and there is also conscious breathing. When you think about each breath, when you feel the air filling your lungs and the rest of your chest cavity, you feel fuller of energy and empty of worries.
I proceeded with some sun salutations and with each one I felt freer and more cheerful. I did some warrior poses and some ground twists and stretches all the while being completely aware of the breath. The whole sequence took no more than 15 minutes.
I felt ready to take on the day.
There is a reason why people say that deep breathing relieves stress. Deep breathing activates those parts of the brain that release anti-stress hormones (oh yeah, I remember things from undergrad!) No wonder your mom always told you to breathe when you had yet another breakdown about something totally insignificant in high school. However, I find that breathing without thinking just isn’t enough. Conscious breathing is what relaxes a person completely. Think about each breath, feel each breath. Feel the air coming out of you as it takes with it all your problems and worries. Think about nothing but that breath. After even five or six truly deep, slow breaths you will feel relaxed yet energized. And if you feel like going further, throw in a yoga pose or two to challenge yourself.
Try this next time you’re stressed, and attempt to restore the balance to your chaotic day.
Today I wish you light and breath,