Learning to breathe

yogaThis past Sunday, I drove to the gym for a workout. I was originally planning to do squats and dead lifts. I had arrived earlier than I usually do, and the 11 am yoga class was about to start. On a whim, I walked into the studio and grabbed a mat. It was a decision filled with a bit of apprehension and I just about walked out. But I’m so glad I stayed.

I’ve attended yoga classes before, but have always struggled with the most basic poses and eventually stopped going. At the time, my upper body and core strength wasn’t enough to support my weight, and I lacked flexibility. But rather than continue with yoga, I changed my focus to free weights and building strength. I’ve made a lot of progress since then and decided that I’d give yoga another try.

The instructor that day focused on restorative yoga, which is more gentle and restful than some of the other types. It was a lot easier than the classes I had tried previously. Although some of the poses were challenging, I was pleasantly surprised at the pace and atmosphere of the class.

One thing that stood out to me was the use of breathing throughout the movements. We also started and finished the class with deep, measured breathing. I was amazed at how much it calmed and relaxed me.

These past few weeks months have been crazy, as I’ve noted before. Work is hectic, full of ‘priorities’ and must-have-this-done-yesterday deadlines. I dash from stack to stack of paperwork, barely grabbing a spare moment for lunch. I’m also in the midst of packing and moving to a new place. I’ve been able to create quiet moments within the chaos, but the feeling of being overwhelmed tends to hang over me.

The yoga class on Sunday reminded me to breathe. When things start feeling oppressive, I can stop, take a few deep breaths, and keep going. It only takes a few moments and can be done anywhere. I’m glad I went to that class. It reminded me of something important that I had forgotten.

What are some of your thoughts?

Image credit: “Yoga” by Matt Madd is licensed under CC by 2.0

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10 thoughts on “Learning to breathe

    • Ally says:

      Thanks for the encouragement. I think I’ll keep going to the Sunday class, as I really enjoyed it. Its a great way to get rid of stress and tension too 🙂

      Like

  1. VTNessa says:

    I’ve learned (am learning!) to take each day as it comes. I don’t know if our foster kid will go home to family in 2 months (after a year with us), or if an adopted family will be needed. I try to take it one day at a time, not planning far ahead, taking in each good or great moment and letting it fully seep in, banking it up for later when I need a push through some of the struggles. I used to do yoga years ago (not in a class- too embarrassed to take public classes) but my son would end up climbing on me as I did, which made it hard to relax into poses and I eventually gave up. The times it did work out though, it helped me feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      That has to be difficult, especially when you’ve grown attached to the little one. I can totally see the challenges of practicing yoga with a little boy around, they really do like to clamber all over everything 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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  2. twainwall says:

    I’ve been doing meditation, only in short periods in the day but I think it really helps in everyday life. It’s good to slow down breath and take time for yourself. 🙂
    Oh and I have a quote for you Ally 😀 – “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      I totally agree, even short breaks throughout the day make a huge difference to my state of mind. That’s a great quote, we can get so busy with life, that we fail to appreciate the experiences. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Warrior Freya says:

    I haven’t been as diligent with practicing yoga lately, but it’s something I’m getting back into slowly. I do small practices before I carry my bike up the stairs when I get home. It helps me cool down and stretch, getting ride of the acid build up in my legs, which keeps my muscles for being sore and tired the next day.

    When I first started yoga though downward dogs kicked my butt because my upper body was so weak. It was a massive workout just to hold the pose the first few rounds, much less make it through the whole practice with all of the other crazy poses I was supposed to contort my body into. I mean, really? People bend that way?

    The classes I have gone to at my gym have been awesome, not just because they’re a bit more structured than my own personal routines, but because they help expose me to different variations of the poses. Things like Lizard pose evolving into Flying Lizard, or modifications for when a pose is too much for me. Reminders of where I should be placing my weight, where I should be extending. And always the focus of breathing.

    Inhale, Exhale, Slow. Smooth. Exist. Be present. Feel. Be aware. Set your intention. For your practice. For your day.

    There’s tons of information online, but sometimes, there’s so much information that it feels like I’m drowning in it and it’s too daunting to try to find the what I’m actually looking for. The classes helped with that. Small bite sized chunks of yoga info that I could actually absorb, slowly turning me into a guru.

    In the beginning that whole “inner peace” thing eluded me, too. I was too worried about not being as good as everyone else. Too focused on not falling on my face if / when my arms gave out. Too wrapped up in not slipping in my own sweat because I wasn’t the graceful, dew covered hottie in yoga pants. I was the “I’m working on being a better me and the only way to do that is through blood, sweat, and tears…” chick in the back of the room, doing my damnest to not gasp like a fish out of water with the thoughts of “I’ll show you little Miss Hottie. I can hold that pose just as long as you can,” going through my head. Not all that terribly relaxing or very “inner peace” focused thoughts…

    I’m still not the dew covered hottie, but I’ve found my own path in yoga. I’ve found whatever it is that people talk about. When I go, when I practice, wherever it’s at, it’s for me, for my body, for my health. I do what I’m able to do that day, and I love myself for it, instead of comparing it to someone else or what I was able to do the day before.

    There’s just something about it, yoga, that makes me feel good. The weight lifting is great, and I have a better appreciation for it than I used to, but yoga touches something different.

    Hopefully it is fulfilling for you as well. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      I also had a huge struggle with downward dog for the same reasons. Its a lot easier now that I’ve gained more strength, but can still be challenging. The very first time I tried yoga, we did downward dog in between ALL the other movements, I thought I was going to die haha.

      I also love the structure of a class, as opposed to figuring things out on my own. Its often difficult to know exactly how to do a pose based on a description or video. But the instructor guides you into and through each pose, so all you need to do is follow their directions. I love learning all the new movements too and am appreciative of the modifications for those with less flexibility (me)! It really helped to relieve my tight lower back muscles too, I felt so much better afterwards.

      The focus on breathing reminded me of the need to be present and aware of my current experience and situation. I was definitely self conscious the first time, especially on the poses that required balance. Since then, I’ve become more relaxed which has made the experience more calming and grounding.

      There really is something special about yoga. I love weight lifting and its really fulfilling and fun for me. But yoga creates this feeling of calm within me and I love that. I’m definitely going to stick with it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. alissalu says:

    Congrats on pushing yourself to go in! I know that feeling. I’m the opposite, I absolutely love yoga and go most weeks, but I feel like everyone is watching me at the gym. I know that’s just me being insecure, but it’s such a challenge to push myself to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      Thanks, it ended up being totally worth it in the end 🙂 As for working out in the gym, it took me 6 months before I felt comfortable in the womens-only area of the gym. It was another year until I felt confident enough to work out in the co-ed area. But I think its like that for a lot of people 🙂

      Like

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