Breathe In, Breathe Out

Breath in, Breath Out

Breathe In, 

Your breath should be heard.

In yoga, they tell us to focus on our breathing, to make our breath louder than our thoughts. We are supposed to concentrate on our breathing, making it slower, more audible, soothing. It drowns out all the troubles that we have outside of the walls of the studio. All of our “flaws” that we are self conscious about, all of the negativity and doubt, all of the pain we might carry with us, is all left behind. 
Your breath should be calming.
When I complete my final Shavasana (the last post in yoga–where you lay flat on your back, soaking up all the benefits of your practice), I feel renewed, calm, and ready for the outside world. Inevitably the stresses of the outside world get to me. I eventually get tense or frustrated, and I have to take myself back to the inner peace I feel during yoga. I purposefully slow my breathing, making the breath audible–even oceanic, as they tell often tell you to do during your practice.  
You breath should be long.
In school, they teach you that a comma indicates a breath. It signals a “pause” in a sentence. But a semicolon is used to connect two similar ideas when something stronger than a comma is needed. The image above symbolizes the moments when you feel like giving up, when everything becomes too much to handle. You take that breath: breath in, breath out. Suddenly the stress and worries you had before become a little more manageable. The deeper and longer the breath the more relaxed you feel. 
Your breath should be relieving.
When I am feeling overheated in yoga I take a deep inhale and take an open-mouth exhale to release the heat. They tell us to do this or go into child’s pose if we are feeling overheated or out-of-sync with our breath. Lately, I have encountered more stressors than usual, and I hold my stress in my stomach. I call them my “stress stomach aches”, triggered by anxiety and worry. When other people in my life are hurting, I hurt, and while feeling other people’s pain can be in our nature, it can take a real tole on you. One of my good friends reminded me that it is good to empathize with others, but I can’t go on their journey with them. I cannot take on the problems of the world, no matter how much I might want to help others. So I will do my best to see the beauty within them, and hope that someone can seek solace in my words.
Your breath should be forgiving.
In a stressful situation, I have to actively remind myself to take deep breaths. Inhale…1…2…3. Exhale…1…2…3. Respond. Yoga has taught me to live in the moment, but that can be easier said than done. In our practice we are supposed to focus on the present, and not hold onto the past. That can be as simple as forgiving your body for not staying balanced in a certain pose. Or it can be as complex as forgiving yourself for the negative thoughts you had or negative actions in your life. 
Your breath should be steady.
When you are in the present moment you do not hold onto the things that went wrong yesterday, and you don’t worry about the possible dilemmas of the future. You concern yourself with what is happening right now. In this moment. Sometimes you don’t want to be in the present moment, because it is hard, and it is uncomfortable. But you remember while you are in the moment that it won’t last forever, and that like with the semicolon, there is a story on the other side. So slow down, take a breath. Know that everything takes time, but when you get to look back, you will see that the rough patch–that time when everything seemed too much to handle, that road block you thought was a dead end–was the semicolon that told two similar stories. Both were about you, connected by the moment when you realize there is so much more to come.
Breathe Out.
Breath In, Breath Out Image
Credit: The Berry