03 Jan Breathing in the new year
There is no transition of time quite so notable as the turning of the pages of the calendar from one year to the next. And most especially this year, with all that 2020 brought our way.
Transitions are life. They are the way of nature, and they occur with or without our participation. We can no more halt the golden hues of Fall from becoming the cool tones of Winter than we could have halted the pandemic of 2020. They will happen with or without our participation.
The changing of the new year has always created both excitement and anxiety for me. Excitement for a perceived new slate and all that can mean, and anxiety that I am somehow missing the opportunity – I am not doing enough to “complete” the previous year or to make the most of the new year.
My email has been filled with newsletters from various thought leaders I admire with helpful suggestions on how to make the most of this time of transition, and with each new thought, new prompt, and new suggestion, my anxiety grows.
Anxiety is the bodies way of communicating that something is amiss. In Yoga Therapy, anxiety is understood to be caused by disruption in the wholeness of the being. If we are inherently whole beings, as Yoga understands us to be, anxiety is an indication that we are not operating in our wholeness – our Essence.
For me this is most obviously reflected in my breath – or should I say lack of breath!
When I begin to notice the rising waves of anxiety, without fail I also notice I am holding my breath.
Breath is our greatest regulator. Breath is life. If you have taken a yoga class with me, you know we ALWAYS begin by regulating the breath.
- First we begin by noticing the breath. Notice the rhythm, the pattern, the cadence. Is it slow and balanced, shallow and unsteady? Notice, without judgment, without attachment. Simply notice.
- And then we observe that by simply noticing the breath it begins to change – to deepen. As the great master teacher Desikachar exclaimed, “Where our mind goes, prana flows.”
- Next we begin to actively participate in the regulating of our breath, deepening each breath consciously, slowly balancing inhale to exhale, actively developing the habit of conscious breathing.
When we breathe consciously, with intention, we begin the process of harmonizing, or uniting, our being, which is the ultimate purpose of the practices of Yoga.
As a mind-body practice, yoga allows us to become aware of the link between our bodies and minds in a way which can help us become less anxious. And it is my experience as a Yoga teacher and therapist, that the breath is the most direct way to experience this.
For Your Consideration
If I can offer you one practice, one habit to develop in this new year it is this – throughout your day take several moments and notice your breath: notice your pattern of breathing when your mind is racing with thoughts, notice when you are petting your dog or cat, notice when you are busy checking off your “to-do” list, notice when you are holding your beloved’s hand, notice when you are stuck in traffic or rushing on your way to an important appointment.
And with that awareness, if you notice a disruption in your wholeness, choose something different. Choose a full, deep conscious breath. In fact choose several of them.
We cannot avoid the inevitable transitions in life, but we can consciously choose to move towards wholeness regardless the circumstance. This is Yoga. And your conscious breath is the most direct way to integrate wholeness.
May 2021 bring you to new levels of understand of your wholeness.