Thursday, December 21, 2006

Breathe.



Sometimes, I’ll just be sitting there – maybe doing nothing at all - when an alarm goes off in my head and says “HEY!! BREATHE!!” My body will respond with a gasp for air and I realize that I had stopped breathing. For no reason at all, just STOPPED breathing.

This scares me! I wonder how long it had been since I did last take a breath. And, f I am doing this when I’m very awake, what do I do when I’m sleeping?

My worst time with my breathing is while I’m driving, so I try to take especially deep breaths during my two-hour commute. (It fills the time, anyway!)

I’ve been trying to keep up with my interest in yoga (which comes and goes) mainly for this reason. When I was actually getting up and DOING it in the morning, I felt wonderful. I felt healthy and energized. I even felt taller. (?)





Another thing that I really need to keep up with (for it’s proven good effects on my body) is meditation. It sounds so corny to meditate (at least to some people) – I hate the looks I get from people when I say that I like it. But it is a great way to relieve stress. I found The Stillness Station on iTunes and listened to it (during my time off last September) while I waited for the kids’ bus to arrive. My mom said, “I feel like she’s going to lean in and kiss me!” But, Stin has a very calm and sweet voice that I found relaxing. It was so much easier for me (The Neurotic Multitasker) to use guided meditation than to sit and “reflect.” It just ‘structured’ my thoughts rather than letting them bounce between all the other things going on in my head. The Man actually told me that he noticed how much calmer I was.

Back when I was really interested (and didn’t have a fine at the library) I read a few books about yoga and related subjects and learned that breathing is the number one reason why yoga is so effective. Oxygen is vital to your body - to your organs, to your blood, to your bones. Oxygen fuels our body and gives us energy.

In one ‘ancient’ book, they described a breathing exercise in which you lie flat on your back and breathe deep into the different sections of your chest.
Imagine your lungs are divided into three sections:
1. There is the bottom, the part you feel in your stomach (your diaphragm). When you breathe deeply here, you aid your digestion and calm your heart rate. To exercise this area, take a deep breath, inflating your stomach it to its fullest, then deflating it with a long, steady breath. It seems redundant to explain this, but most people do not breathe this way, and this is how “normal” breathing should be.
2. There is the middle, which is under your xyphoid process. To exercise this area, imagine there is a small balloon stuck under your ribs and expand only that area (as if to inflate the balloon) when breathing in, pull your ribs toward your spine while slowly exhaling. This is the part of your lungs that you use when you ‘stress breathe’ – take short, shallow breathes. Stress breathing is harmful to your body - it does not allow the oxygen to reach the parts of your body that need it. When you practice deep breathing here, you fully exercise the section that is used to working a lot, but not working hard.
3. Then there is the top. This is the one that surprised me the most. The very tips of your lungs actually don’t get worked much. The book described it as; where your lungs are normally pink (unless you’re a smoker, of course), the tips that don’t get used very often become weak, gray and sickly tissue. They attribute this area’s weakness to lung infections, colds and mucus build-up. When I exercised this part – breathing as with the rest, only focusing on the very tips (it really helps to visualize your lungs as you do it), I felt like they had been given an actual work-out – they felt tired, but in an invigorated way.



A couple things to note is that you want to practice each in their own time, take plenty of breaths per area and the also recommend doing it on an empty stomach.

Remember last Saturday, when I posted my horoscope about “stop evangelizing and lead by example?” Well, I’m trying. I looked for new podcasts last night and found some ones that I think will be more motivating. My problem with doing it this way is this: The first yoga-themed podcast I subscribed to was Yogamazing with Chad Rough. I quickly grew tired of this and never even practiced using it. He is informative, but how am I expected to hold my iPod, watch the video and keep my earphones in all while trying to do the poses?
Next, I found Yogadownload.com. (Note that I get these on iTunes, where they are FREE – not the websites where the previews are free.) iTunes had three sessions from them, all twenty minutes a piece. Listening to it, I could already tell it was going to be easier to use because they simply tell you what pose to move into (and, like a teacher, reminding you to BREATHE). But a newbie like me doesn’t know every pose. That problem left this podcast pretty unusable, too.
Next, I found Discovery Home & Health Yoga Classes. (Can’t find their website, but they are listed under this in iTunes). This EXPLAINS each pose – why and HOW – in two to three minute videos. I think learning from this will help me be able to use the twenty-minute verbal sessions with a little more ease.

So, you see, I am trying. I am preparing, which is the first step…I just wish I could move on to the next, which is actually waking up in time to do it.

I finally got information about that ‘studio’ in my town – turns out it’s just a ‘wellness center.’ They don’t have yoga. But they do have massages, waxing and Chinese medicine!

I think tomorrow will be the perfect day to start my venture. I’m going to use my DVD, because even though the girl annoys the piss out of me, I know the routine, so it will be easier to follow. It is going to be a long weekend and what a better way to start it than feeling healthy, energized and…taller?

1 comment:

jamie said...

Hi Amy!

I admire your dedication to learning yoga!

I work at YogaDownload.com and came across your blog. I wanted to let you know that on our website each of our downloadable classes comes with a printable pose guide so you can see the poses in addition to hearing the audio instruction for the class.

Also, very soon we will be updating our podcast so that the pose guides will be available for each of our free podcast classes as well. Additionally are going to start adding 2 new classes each week (complete with pose guides) to our free podcast.

So stay tuned and keep up the good work!

Jamie