Ten minute daily practice to get out of your head and reconnect to your body to build self-awareness and compassion, release tension and heal.Read More
Breathing is the most essential bodily function.
We do it without effort or conscious thought all day long, every day of our lives. . .You’d think then that we’d be pretty good at it.
Unfortunately, the quality of our breath is diminished by many things including mood, stress level and posture, as well as allergies, illness and injury. Over time, these create a weak and shallow breath pattern, leaving us feeling stressed, fatigued, tight, cranky and likely in pain.
This was me. A cervical spine injury, tendency to live up in my head, and years of sucking my belly in to appear more attractive had combined to ensure that my breath never made it much further down than my upper chest. My neck and shoulders strained with each breath and I was completely disconnected from the rest of my body. Ironically, I had no idea. I had breathed this way and been in pain for so long that I was used to it.
Learning to Feel
Then, in one of those weird twists of fate where the Universe drops you exactly where you need to be at the moment you are ready to receive it, I found Forrest Yoga, a practice centered not around performing the physical postures but rather on what each pose exposed within me. It asked me to breathe when it felt easier to constrict and hold my breath. It asked me to feel when I was most uncomfortable and to be brave enough to simply be present with my thoughts and feelings instead of running away, shutting down or pushing them deeper inside.
Not someone to learn things the easy way though, I resisted. Half the time I hated it. Yet I couldn’t deny how much better I felt at the end of class. It was like a workout and a therapy session all in one and I was seriously in need of both.
What's the Big Deal About Breathing?
The thing I couldn’t wrap my head around though was all this talk about breath. Supposedly this was “the most important part of the practice.”
Huh? Why? And honestly, why was it so hard to breathe they wanted me to?
I wanted to feel light and free of the stress that pulled me down. But when I took a deep breath all I felt was my tightness and shut down.
Learning to Heal
Then one day, after months (many months) of gentle coaching from my teachers it dawned on me. The point was not to be tension free. It was to acknowledgethe tension, to snuggle up to it and ask:
- Where exactly were those tension areas?
- What did they feel like?
- Could I breathe into those areas at all? If not, how close could I get my breath to that area without struggle or strain?
Honestly – the first few breaths were terrible. All I felt was how tight and shut down I was, particularly around my shoulders, chest and throat.
If I kept with it though, the most amazing things would begin to happen.
It would start to change.
Then, almost inevitably, an emotion, memory or unexpected thought would rise up. Seemingly out of nowhere I’d feel a lump in my throat, pang in my chest or feel my eyes get misty as the inconvenient feelings I had stuffed down started to move and release along with physical tension in my muscles.
It freaked me out. Then I realized what a gift it was. My body and mind, linked by my smooth deep breath, were working together to heal. I didn’t have to pin point why or how long I’d felt this way, only to acknowledge that I did. Rather than need to solve, I simply chose to feel the emotion and allow it move rather than stuffing it back down. I wasn’t “bad.” I wasn’t “broken.” I was simply human and humans have feelings.
Put Your E-motion-s in Motion
E-motion-s are meant to be in motion. When we shut down from feeling them, they don’t disappear. They become stagnant swamps of hurt, anger and pain, slowly poisoning us and our relationships until we clean them out. I learned that if I could just keep breathing, those feelings would rise and crest and eventually dissipate.
Breathing then became a way of checking in with myself.
A tool in times of stress as small as a long line of traffic and as terrifying as a “we need to talk” moment with a loved one.
It showed me a new way to stay present no matter what the world threw at me. I didn’t have to armor up. I didn’t’ have to shrink away or pretend that everything was fine.
I could breathe and I could feel which allowed me to be present.
Now, when I feel a wave of frustration or overwhelm building, the first thing I do is start breathing – as deeply and slowly as I can – down into my belly and low ribs. I press my feet into the floor and spread my toes to ground and I give myself at least 3 breaths to feel what’s really going on before reacting.
By extending myself that kindness, I’m able to also react with more compassion to others.
Ready to try this for yourself?
What's the famous John Steinbeck quote about the best laid plans of mice and men? If you're like me, you mean well. You have every good intention of eating better, working out more, stressing less, spending less, sleeping more and generally being kinder and happier.
And then. . .
Yes, you will get stronger.
Yes, you will diminish and forget about your aches & pains.
Yes, you will look better in your clothes (and out of them too ;)
But it’s also so much more than a workout - it’s a lifestyle.Read More
Are you sick and tired of feeling broken? Ready to live without the pain and frustration of chronic injury and/or self-defeating beliefs (I suck at this. There’s no way I can do this. Etc. . .)? Want to find the strength and confidence to go after something that feels out of reach?
This one simple question will help get you there. . .Read More
Each day we make decisions and take actions, small and big, that either lead us closer to the person we want to be and the life we want to create or further from it. Intent is our internal road map, guiding us forward toward our goals. Without intent, we're walking SOMEWHERE, yet without direction.Read More
Starting takes guts.
Whether it's rolling out a yoga mat for the first time, creating your first piece of art, traveling somewhere new or learning a new skill; there is something magical and terrifying about trying something for the first time.Read More
Are you feeling it? There aren’t enough hours in the day. There isn’t enough coffee to keep you going or yoga to stay grounded.
You’re busy . . . so busy that you don’t remember what it’s like to actually have a cleared to do list or to give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing at all. You can’t focus, maybe you can’t sleep. Is it just you? . . .Read More
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to go into autopilot. Feelings get shut down and pushed aside in order to get through yet they show up in other ways: a stiff back and shoulders, jaw and neck tension, increased blood pressure, poor sleep or digestion and so on.
Without taking the time to pause, observe and release these tensions, they build, slowly draining our energy and vitality til the day we no longer recognize (or like) who we’ve become.Read More
Ever feel like the world just keeps spinning faster and faster making it almost impossible to stay centered? Having effective tools for staying grounded and calm is a necessary tool not only for avoiding burnout but for physical, mental and emotional health & wellbeing.
One of the most effective & time-efficient methods of relaxation I've found is working mindfully with my breath. It requires no special equipment, costs nothing and takes only a few minutes. . .
How would you like to:
- Improve the distance of your drive on the golf course?
- Increase the power of your swing and the quickness of your reaction on the tennis court?
- Spend more time running, biking or swooshing down the slopes?
All with more mobility, less stiffness and quicker recovery. . . these are just some of the benefits of a regular Pilates practice.Read More
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
To keep them functioning, computers can be restarted and cell phones charged but what about us?How often do we truly unplug?Read More
We feel great after class and promise to get there more often. . . then life happens. We get busy. Schedules change. We get injured. Suddenly we can't do what we did before and we have a choice to make - do we give up or do we go deeper? And what exactly does it mean to go deeper?Read More
It sounds too simple, too new age, but ask yourself, if your goal was to truly love your body the way you love your child, best friend or partner, what behaviors would you need to change?Read More
The first time I met Ana Forrest (creatrix of Forrest Yoga) was at an event for her book, Fierce Medicine, where she spoke and signed copies of the book. I nervously waited in line to meet the woman whose teachings had been so powerful in my life. I walked up to the table she was sitting at and stumbled right into it, knocking it in to her. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" I squeaked. Then I knocked her cup over. "Sorry again." I was dying of embarrassment. She was so poised and calm and I was a hot mess. We chatted while she signed my book then she handed it back and I walked away. . .Read More