39 Lessons - Lesson 33 - Waiting to exhale

39 Lessons - Lesson 33 - Waiting to exhale

I recently hurt my back, and had a number of tests and treatments for it, but one of the things that I found truly beneficial in my recovery was going to a beginner’s pilates class. I have a friend who has had major back pain and surgery, and she has always sworn by pilates – she even has a routine that she practices twice a day which she credits (along with swimming) to making huge improvements in her comfort level where her back is concerned. So after I had improvement with my back, I decided to join a beginner’s pilates class. I really enjoyed it. There aren’t many forms of exercise that I really enjoy (fortunately for me – swimming is one that I do love) but I really enjoyed this class, so much so that I decided to take a one-on-one session as a birthday gift to myself. I always had a secret desire to be really good at yoga and pilates. I love to watch persons reaching into those poses, they always look strong and powerful and I have always had a little envy of the yogis posting on the net. But I never thought I would be able to do it, as I felt slow, sluggish and stiff, and really felt as if I lacked the flexibility and the strength, and didn’t know where to start to develop it. But this beginners pilates class was excellent.

And the one-on-one session was also excellent, and I got some great tips and ideas for exercises that I can do at home daily to make improvements. But the instructor said one thing to me that stood about about halfway through the session. She said to me “you are strong, and you ARE flexible, but you are holding your breath” and it was like a lightbulb went off (on??) in my head. She said that one of the most important things I could do in my practice was to breathe. And it spoke to me, because I often catch myself holding my breath. During the day at work, during most forms of exercise I literally hold my breath. But sometimes in life, I feel as if I am also holding my breath, as I wait for something to happen. And a strange thing happens to people who hold their breath – they begin to panic. Do you want to know why I know this so well? Because one of the things I spend a large portion of my day saying to patients is – don’t hold your breath. There is nothing like fear and anxiety to cause you to hold your breath. I watch my patients hold their breath, and before long, panic sets in. Their eyes widen, they feel choked, and they exhibit unusual behavior. And the same thing happens to me. When I feel as if I am holding my breath in life, because I am fearful and anxious, I start to panic. The body can only survive so long without air. On the flip side, I have heard that the most unbelievable things can be achieved when we focus on our breathing. We can improve our mood, our health, even climb mountains, sleep better, feel refreshed and energized, or relaxed and comfortable, tackle pain – it seems there is no end to the benefits of breathing well.

During those times that I am holding my breath, waiting for something to happen, I am paralysed – not moving, not taking action. And while a pause has its place, the longer I stay frozen, holding my breath, the more I start to panic, and the more fearful I feel. I am strong. I am flexible. I need to stop holding my breath! And perhaps for someone out there reading this the same applies. Are you holding your breath? BREATHE………….. and take action.

For me a pilates class turned into a life lesson. Stop holding my breath. Breathe…… Act… Live!

Sending you deep breaths from a small island!!

Ps - you will see that I like flowers. As soon as I was ready to post, I knew that I wanted the above flower to go with it!! Yet another throwback to my visit to Roccoco Gardens