The Power of Breath


Breath is yoga.  It allows us to unite the movements of our bodies with the intentions of our minds.  It allows us to control ourselves.  It helps us to push boundaries both physically and mentally throughout our practice.  It is more powerful than any muscle, bone or organ.  It is our lifeline, figuratively and literally.  Without it, not only would we be lost, we would be dead.

Today I learned an important lesson: our breath can serve us when we are off of our mats, as well.  I suppose, in theory, I already knew this, but I had never relied on my breath quite like I did this morning.

Last night, I had a horrible fight with a loved one.  We both said some very hurtful things.  It hurt that he would say such things to me.  It hurt that I would say such things to him.  I am holding back tears just thinking about it.

When I woke up this morning, I had a short moment of peace before remembering the pain of last night.  I think that may be the worst part of going to bed in an unhappy place.  It makes the pain even worse when you remember it.  I was devastated.  It was all I could do to get myself out of bed.

But I had to pull it together.  I had a busy day at work to get to and I was already running late.  So I grit my teeth and got ready to go.  This was not exactly the best strategy.  I snapped at my mother during breakfast.  I was short with my father on my way out the door.  But I did manage to hold back my tears until I made it to the privacy of my car.

I barely controlled my tears on the way to work.  But the closer I got to my office, the more tears slipped through my eyelids (good thing I vetoed the mascara this morning).  I parked my car and paused, staring into space, tears dripping down my face.  How was I going to get through this day?  Face my coworkers?  Hold my meetings?  Meet my deadlines?  With this emotional breakdown written all over my face?

Well, I didn’t come up with an answer, but I couldn’t really afford to sit in my car any longer.  So I began to make my way into the building.  As I was walking, I felt the tell-tale tightness in my throat and I could see it all falling apart.  I took a deep breath.

Aha!  There it was.  My old friend.  I began to harness my ujjayi breath as I walked.  I moved rhythmically with my deepened breathing.  I instantly felt a bit stronger.  Like I would be able to handle the next nine hours.

In that moment, breath had saved me.  I was reminded of its power.  It is a source of strength.  It allows us to control our emotions.  Fosters a mental toughness.  Helps us to focus on the present moment.  This morning, my breath patted me on the back, held my hand and walked me into work.  And I am not exaggerating when I say I literally could not have done it otherwise.

If we let it, our breath can help us handle the daily difficulties of life.  It is a tool.  A friend.  A doctor.  A spiritual guide.  Breath is power.  With it, we all can have power, too.


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