Your sister-in-law comes over and says you look tired with a nasal whine and a sigh. A nephew drops red Jell-O on your light pink carpet and it begins to harden before anyone sees it. Your son’s new girlfriend is more engrossed in her smartphone than family conversation. You are sitting in a meeting and can already hear that someone’s great, innovative idea means more work being dumped in your already overflowing inbox. What all of this has in common is that, at first glance, it can make you want to punch something, or someone. And, what it all also has in common is that a good way to cope is to just breathe through it all.
Focus on the breath is one of the most basic tenets of yoga, and is of course an involuntary action that helps to keep us alive. But, when you are outside of the yoga studio and life happens, what is the quality of the breath you are bringing in? Believe it or not, through much of our days, we got locked into shallow and slowed breathing. Tightness, tension, agitation, and the defensive carriage that comes with all of this, locks us up and we get stuck in a breathing pattern bringing breath only as deeply as the upper chest. Filling up the belly and lungs seems to be something we forget outside of yoga class.
If you catch yourself in this shallow and slowed breathing pattern, find a way to post “reminders” to breathe. Move a sticky note around your office so you take note of it and heed the reminder. Program breathing “alarms” on your phone. Place an affirmation-style note on your bathroom or dresser mirror.
Think of the breath as an active filtration system. In bringing in prana, you are continuing the cycle of strong, purifying, block-breaking, life force-providing oxygen. As you exhale, you allow the apana (eliminating force) to run its course and release built up tension, negativity, toxins, obliterated block residue, and poor patterns from your space. As you breathe bigger and fuller in through the upper chest, filling the lungs and then inflating the belly (and reversing the order during release), you continue this energizing cycle. You help wake up your brain and feel clearer and perkier. Combine this with a short walk and you can take on the world!
Keep it simple and in the midst of the hustle and bustle, remember to really breathe.