Post #66: 7-minute breath-work exercise when you need to press the pause button
Want to know one of the many things I love about yoga?
The self-study. The yoga sutras say that yoga is built on 3 components: discipline, practice and self-study.
As we practice yoga we learn to shift into witness consciousness. This is the aspect of consciousness that allows us to turn our focus onto ourselves and “study” ourselves. It’s pretty darn cool. It’s what allows us to slow down and begin letting go aspects of ourselves that we’ve picked up and learned along the way that no longer serve us well.
For instance, one day I was loading the dishwasher and my husband put something in the “wrong” place.
I said, “That can’t go there.”
He asked, “Why not?”
I replied, “Because my mom told me so.”
As the annoyance grew to a boil inside me I “watched” myself act just like my mom and try to convince him why the dishwasher had to be loaded this certain way. By the time I was done we were both laughing and I realized that, it took a minute, but that feeling like I was holding my breath with all of that annoyance built up inside of me finally started to ease up. I could breathe easy again and the “hardness” I felt inside trying to cling onto this belief began to let go.
My yoga practice enabled me to do this. I remember as I felt the emotions rising I hit the pause button. I allowed myself to feel the frustration and annoyance fully until I really wanted to cry and just “get my way”. But I held strong. I made myself breathe even though I wanted to hold my breath. I “watched” all of this happening and as I realized how silly I was being I made the choice to just let it go. This was a pretty easy lesson for me. But it made me realize that it was “practice” for the harder ones that were to come. And this is what yoga is all about.
Two weeks ago, my youngest daughter Mia was about to turn 6. I had rented a popular birthday event spot and invited family along with her whole kindergarten class. The day before this big birthday party she sprung a fever so I took her straight to the pediatrician. After multiple swabs the doctor came in and announced she had the flu.
Dr: “I’m sorry but you will need to cancel the birthday party.”
Me: “Well, what if we get her fever free by 2 o’clock this afternoon?”
Dr.: “Probably not going to happen. You probably need to cancel and you can just blame me.”
My husband interjects, “Yeah, we just need to flow like water and cancel this birthday. She’s sick and the last thing we want is to spread it to her entire class and all of her grandparents.”
In that moment I wanted to hit something really hard and scream. But instead I took a deep breath and held my tongue. Of course I knew we needed to cancel. Of course I didn’t want to spread the flu around. But I needed to push the pause button. In that moment I saw myself hunched over the computer trying to decide on the perfect day and time for this birthday party. I watched myself order the perfect invitations and address them in my spare time of which there is none. I watched myself and the excitement that had been building in anticipation of my child’s first real birthday party since Covid. I heard Mia’s voice as she had come home everyday that past week to tell us that she was reminding her classmates of her birthday party every day so they wouldn’t forget.
Soon enough I was in the car tracking down her prescription. The doctor sent it to the wrong pharmacy so it took several trips and a good wait to finally get it in hand. But it gave me time to process the information. It gave me time to sink into the pause and allow myself to adjust to the new plan. As I waited on the prescription to get ready I emailed her teacher and texted all of the family to let them know Mia was sick and the party was cancelled.
As we finally pulled up to the house I realized Mia had fallen asleep. I took the moment to open her car door to give my sleeping baby a hug. As I put my head on her little shoulder I began to cry. The stress of changing plans last minute, making sure I remembered who all to tell, and the let down for me in having to cancel by baby’s birthday party had caught up to me.
As I cried into her shoulder I felt her little hand pat my back. “it’s okay Mommy. It’s okay that you had to cancel my birthday party.” Then I really cried. I cried for the gratitude I had in that moment for the kindness of my child. I cried in gratitude that of all the things happening in the world right now, this was all I had to deal with. I cried in gratitude for my life and everything that I am so fortunate to experience including motherhood. I cried because my 6-year old was handling this better than I was and there was something very comical about that. My yoga practice enabled me to do this. My yoga practice enabled me to pause, let go, and eventually laugh.
Next time you have something come up, whether it’s an old useless habit or a sudden change of well-laid plans, press the pause button for yourself. Sink into witness consciousness, take some deep breaths, and allow yoga to move you through its process. Most important, give yourself the space and the time to re-adjust and don’t judge yourself for any resistance.
I’m including a video this week that will help you “let go” in these circumstances. It’s a blend of breath-work practices that help us release old, stagnant energy and fixated beliefs and plans. Click on the video below and get started. In 7 minutes notice if you feel a sense of freedom from how things “should’ be happening in your life.
You are a force for good in the world. The more consistent you get with these practices the more your life will become guided, sacred, and filled with meaning. You cannot help but then extend deep peace, joy, and contentment to your loved ones, friends, and everyone you meet. The world could use more of this, so let’s get you in the best space to make it happen.