New Year, New Breath!
January is a good time to consider upgrading your breath. Out with the old, shallow, automated breath that’s been with you forever. In with the new upgraded version of deep breath that will take you from negative energy to positive… in under 60 seconds. Don’t waste another day of the new year with that plain ol’ breath while a powerful tool sits dormant inside your body.
Start the year off taking control of your energy, attitude, creativity, patience, clarity and productivity by simply getting to know your breath better. Specifically, adding some deep breaths to your life.
This simple and powerful change could be the one thing that will absolutely help you reach those New Year’s resolutions that otherwise may fall by the wayside. Deep breaths are a legit way to hack into the benefits of meditation without having to sit through a full meditation session. I’m not knocking full sessions but like many entrepreneurs, I have a hard time just being still for long periods of time. Years ago, I was lucky enough to find the solution.
Back in the day when I first began yoga in 1989, I was known as the girl who always left yoga class right before ‘shavasana,’ (Shavasana is Sanskrit for ‘corpse pose,’ it’s the last pose of yoga class where you lie still for several minutes) because being still made me anxious.
I’d stare at the ceiling as my mind began to swirl into to-do lists and my heart began to race. I saw no value in those last five minutes of class. I was busy. I had things to do and places to go. I didn’t need to partake in that very last part of class to just be still. I had no respect for stillness. Namaste, see you tomorrow…I’d nod to the teacher and slip out the door sideways.
But slithering out of yoga class pre-shavasana was a rookie move that was both offensive to the teachers and a real disservice to myself. The teachers began to pull me aside and ask why I was I making the daily effort (sometimes twice a day!) to attend yoga class but leaving before it was over. They’d kindly urge me to complete the practice. I began to feel awful about scootching out. I had to figure out why they were all so passionate about shavasana.
Instead of faking it, I decided to try to actually experience this ‘most important pose.’ I trained myself first to close my eyes because there were no answers in the ceiling. This simple act somehow led my body naturally to take a deep breath, knowing I needed to find my patience and briefly settle in. It was that one deep breath each time that began to ease me into the quiet space that I had never arrived at before. Ever. It was game changing to find this powerful yet peaceful feeling called stillness, even briefly.
What made it a major game changer was when I began taking that experience off the mat and into my life. That was where the magic began; being able to change my mindset, attitude and negative feelings on my own (quickly) through breath, stillness and going inward. Soon enough I understood that the yoga masters of thousands of years ago had indeed saved the best for last!
My Shavasana debacle turned out to be the best lesson and biggest gift. I never would have understood the importance of deep breath and stillness if I hadn’t been such a blatant offender and delicately cited by my teachers. It was the self empowerment shortcut that I absolutely needed to be able to access my mind/body connection and change any anxious or negative feeling into a peaceful one. That was the beginning of a sort of science experiment with breath that I’ve enjoyed every single day ever since.
A few deep breaths powered by intention at key moments in my life has been my superpower for the past three decades, especially in my entrepreneurial life! I gave breath and stillness the respect it deserved and it continues to gives back to me every day. I’m grateful for having realized at a young age that life is better when we can manage our own energy.
I realized that shavasana is a key component of yoga class and life. It’s actually the reason that a flow class is done in the first place; to allow the body to get to a place where it can be still and quiet and absorb all the goodness of the practice. It’s rejuvenating. It feels like the mind and body are holding hands and smiling. Stillness is fuel for the soul.
So, as we begin a new year, give yourself the gift of getting to know your deep breath every now and then. Simple. Start there. It may lead to more deep breaths, it may lead to other breath techniques, it may lead to full session meditation. Who knows?
But for now, it will lead you closer to the power of stillness; the magical space in between all the motion, noise and chaos. It’s from this quiet place where you can tap into your creativity, patience, happiness, confidence and anything else that eludes you in the fast paced daily grind.
Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Try it again. Try it tonight. Try it tomorrow. Keep trying it and see what happens!