I have been “practicing” yoga. Thats what they call it – you don’t DO yoga, youpractice yoga, I guess because you’ll never be perfect, but you’ll always be perfecting your practice.

It has been a journey for me spiritually – learning to breathe. Learning to intentionally relax. Overriding my body and forcing it to submit, to stay still, to bend and stretch. The breathing is something I forget alot – funny how you can forget to breathe. When my legs are shaking from holding Warrior Pose (see below)  for long minutes, and my arms are extended and shaking, I look at a point in the room, then my natural reaction is to hold my breath to still myself.
Hold my breath until I can become steady and strong. Hold my breath until I can regain control. Ah, and there we have my control issues.

the (evil) warrior pose. try holding this for 3 minutes!

Remember when you were a child (or perhaps your child does this) and you wanted something from your mom – you wanted her to submit to your desire – whether that was candy or a trip to 6-flags… So you said“I’m going to hold my breath until you give in!” You hold your breath and steel yourself to accept nothing less than you demanded.

You hold your breath until you can regain control.

Only… it doesn’t quite work that way… because moms were children once too, and they understand that eventually your body will override your lips, and your lungs will force the air out and you will breathe deeply again.

And you don’t exactly lose control when you give in an breathe… in fact, in yoga, you become more focused on that minimal function – the breath in and out, the continuous even breathing – than the pain you are in (or the lack of strength you feel).

I forget this often in my life – I forget to breathe. I get caught up in a thousand whirling demands and four thousand thoughts colliding in my head, and suddenly I find myself lightheaded, stubbornly holding my breath to regain control of my shifting life.

Sometimes I have to block out all of those things surrounding me and take everything down to my most essential and primitive instinct: just to breathe.Measuring my inhalations and exhalations. Focusing on what is within me rather than what surrounds. Building my strength in quietness.

Yoga is a metaphor for my life in the past few years. Facing my weakness. Bending uncomfortably. Moments of blissful relaxation. And learning that through it all, I must breathe.


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