Yoga breathing for pain & panic

The last few days I have had ample opportunity to ‘practice what I preach’. This has been both hard and a gift!

On Friday I used my breathing to calm my nerves for a group interview. At 44 with many jobs and courses under my belt I have had a group interview. I felt I thoroughly lacked life experience on this one. Doing yoga and meditation before leaving the house transformed my feelings from small and anxious, to open and ready. When it got to group interview it didn’t feel so clear, in fact it felt swirly and overwhelming. I focused on breathing out, and my breathing was very useful afterwards to regain balance. So I would like to be able to tell you breathing can help you remain calm under extreme stress, but instead I can say: Focus on your breathing before and after. During the interview Sit well, Relax your body (repeatedly)and Breath out.

On Saturday I had a colonoscopy, without sedation.This was my choice as I wanted to enjoy my Saturday afternoon with the kids and not be doped up with memory loss. The nurses were fantastic, so immensely supportive, and I couldn’t have done it without them. I also couldn’t have done it without my breathing. At one point I started fainting due to the pain. It actually felt pretty lovely and I had to remind myself to breath as fainting can’t be good! I used the breathing I teach for labour: long slow out breath, puffs when it doesn’t work, and vocalising when it felt good and helpful. It was very painful, but not traumatic and afterwards I felt brilliant in confidence.  This experience acts as another reminder about how breathing and kind support work wonders during times of pain.

On Sunday I had an argument with my husband that started with ‘homemade or shop bought’ and spiralled into the bigger stuff. I used my breathing again: this time more like Uujayi breath. I found myself slipping into meditation, staying in the moment, exercising patience and understanding. However this non attachment became slightly numb and then lacking reality – at these moments ‘my yoga’ is to reconnect with my physical body. The argument was ‘more than I was up for, but we got there in the end. Yoga for arguments? I think conflict and stress are what they are, the yoga/breathing/meditation you do in your daily life are what prepares you to cope with the bigger stuff. There are small fixes you can do on the day, but the big fix is to practice in daily life.

On Monday I rested!

Now Im not trying to say you should breathe your way through a tiger attack, or that you should practice non-attachment if in danger, and I can’t tell you how to manage conflict. But I can tell you yoga works. Yoga is about refinding balance – what works best may be yoga poses, breathing, meditation or it might be having some porridge – this is all yoga. Whatever you do to refind balance is what yoga truly is. The most valuable tool you have for pain and panic is your breathing. Conscious breathing can help you cope with pain and panic, I know this for myself, from those Ive taught, and I know this from the weekend.

Good luck and good breathing

Image courtesy of [Ambro] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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