Just Breathe

Life is full of demands. It seems like something or someone always wants our time, our energy, our focus. Work. Family. Kids. Health. Friends. Interests. Causes. My list of things to do, people to see, books to read, miles to run, events to attend is never-ending.

I can’t place all of the blame on culture, society, or even on my list. I am the master of my list, nothing is on it unless I put it there. Saying “no” may not be comfortable, but it is a necessary skill if I am to keep my sanity. So from time to time, I decline. I make space. I push back against the tide of demands.

And just breathe.

There are ads everywhere telling you all of the things you cannot live without, and needs surrounding on every side screaming that they cannot live without you. In the end, though, the one and only thing that is absolutely necessary every minute of the day is to fill your lungs with air and blow it back out again.

Just breathe.

Do you know that breathing not only takes vital oxygen to your cells, but it massages your internal organs and sends chemical signals that affect your adrenaline production? Short and fast breaths are part of your fight or flight emergency system. Slow, deep, full breaths can bring calmness and a sense of well-being even in the middle of a stress-filled moment.

Breathe.

Fill your lungs with air that presses to the bottom of your capacity, that stretches the space between your ribs both front and back, that causes your spine to align and your posture to straighten. You can’t take a deep, full breath when you are hunched over. Breathing supports life and health in so many ways.

So breathe in with your body in a neutral position, feet shoulder width apart whether you are sitting or standing. Let the breath carry your heart high, let your belly melt down and out. Press your breath into your rib space and find more room under your shoulder blades.

And exhale. Breathe in deep, and blow out the air like a balloon. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and use your diaphragm to squeeze all the air out of your lungs, then relax and let them fill again.

Close your eyes and let yourself just breathe for a minute or two and you will find your mind clearer, your body more invigorated, your posture straighter, your mood improved.

Just Breathe.

ReFreshing

Yoga Tip: Foundations

This is my first yoga-related post. Where better to start than the foundation of our practice? For me, because I view yoga as both a physical as well as spiritual practice, the word foundation applies to my faith and where my body meets the mat.

Having a firm foundation is essential to rising up into a strong alignment in our poses. In my yoga tradition, Holy Yoga, we often refer to this as rooting down. We root down through whatever parts are touching the mat. In seated poses, we root through our sit bones. In standing poses, we root through the four corners of our feet. When we are in a table top or down dog, we root through our palms and our knees or feet.

When we mindfully root into the mat, we create a stable platform on which the rest of our body can build a pose. Without that firm foundation, our poses wobble, our alignment is forced, and our body wastes a lot of energy just staying upright. When our pose is built on a proper foundation, we can almost float, completely at rest in our proper alignment.

The same is true for me in my spirit. If I have invested in a firm foundation, I find it easier to walk through the day mindful of the people around me, loving and serving in productive ways. When my foundation is weak, I struggle. It takes a lot of effort just to answer kindly, or practice patience in basic situations (like waiting in line at the grocery store).

My foundation is a relationship with the creator of life, Jesus. Sometimes I need to spend a lot of time praying, listening, meditating on words given to me in the Bible. Then I simply need to maintain an open connection so that his life can flow through me. When I find myself struggling in my daily life, I know it is time to re-examine my foundation. Am I rooting into Christ, and using that stable platform to build my life? Or am I forcing myself into alignment without a firm foundation?

Rooting down to rise up strong.
Now that’s ReFreshing!