I Know I’m Not Alone

It’s interesting to experience what’s opening up in my Yoga classes. I’ve had this whole reconnection with my youth thing going on. I really believe Yoga opens up our connection to our youthfulness. I’m finding myself playing these songs in class simply because it feels good at the moment, so it works. I loved Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers back in the day. Recently, I’ve played a Tom Petty song here or there. And when I play it, or any song I feel that connection to. It feels so good that sometimes I’ll sing. It’s awesome.

Shiva Rea on a Yoga PoseSo, I’ve been going through the emotional roller-coaster of life…so to speak. For the most part, I find myself feeling consistently well, content, happy. But, there are moments where I realize I’m not feeling the intensity of my experience, especially given everything going on with my dad. Just today, I noticed how I’ve been giving almost all of my energy to another situation, but beneath the surface of everything, dwells these unfelt feelings about everything going on with my dad. It’s interesting how life inevitably slows us down and makes us feel our feelings…one way or another. What’s really beneath the surface of all of the stimulation/excitement we’re covering everything up with? For me. it’s a feeling of heaviness when I go into the depth of the feelings; I’m experiencing about my dad. I mean, there are so many feelings, it is the full rainbow of emotions related to my father having cancer. And, it’s not that I need to dwell there, but I certainly need to be conscious of what is.

But, I’m not afraid to feel it…as my first Yoga teacher said…feeling is healing. And, the Lightness shines brighter on the other side when we are authentic with ourselves, our experience.

On a lighter note, I’ll be heading out to L.A. again in July for another training with Shiva called Embodying the Flow. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts in my life, over the past year, is to feel the mentoring and guidance of a true Yogic Master. She is the embodiment of Yoga. I feel her Presence guiding me all the time…and, I mean, she is fricking beautiful. Her natural beauty and Grace inspires and transforms all of those who are blessed to be connected to her. Through studying with her I’ve learned, as Michael Franti says in his song, that “I know I’m not alone.”

And, let’s see, what else. Well, I’m single again so I’m learning a lot about opening my heart, even though sometimes it’s scary and painful. But, it’s always worth it. The only way anything can flow is in an open, free heart. This poem by Hafiz, though, has been particularly influential for me in those moments when I’ve felt the feeling of loneliness,which seems to still creep in every once and a while. So, I hope you find it meaningful to you… Peace.

Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God
Absolutely
Clear.

-Hafiz

5 Steps to Correct Breathing

Most people never think about the way they breathe. It is something that happens as a natural reflex and doesn’t require thought. But, when you do need to concentrate on it, such as during your first yoga class or while working out, that’s when flaws in your breathing style can become easy to detect. Have you ever tried to take a deep breath and found yourself yawning afterward due to lack of oxygen? Or do you ever have trouble focusing on yoga poses and correct breathing at the same time? If so, you’re not alone. Not only do most of us neglect to think about the way we breathe, but we are also most likely in the habit of breathing improperly. To enhance your yoga practice and improve your physical health and emotional well-being, learning to give your body the oxygen it needs should be your very first step. Here’s how:

Posture and rhythm in breathing1. Identify incorrect breathing.

Most people breathe quickly and do not inhale all the way. This is called shallow breathing. If you find yourself breathing fast, raising your shoulders as you breathe, and not letting your stomach expand, you could be breathing incorrectly. When you breathe the right way, your stomach, diaphragm, and ribcage fill with air and visibly expand.

2. Warm up.

Before you learn how to breathe the right way, take some time to warm up your body first. This will relax your muscles and allow the breath to enter the body more fluidly. Don’t exercise to the point that you’re out of breath, though. If you do, wait until your breathing has stabilized.

3. Pick your posture.

You can either stand with your back straight and knees slightly bent or sit cross-legged with a straight back. Put your shoulders back and let your chest lift. Relax your arms and put them on your waist or fold them gently in your lap.

4. Inhale.

Inhaling slowly through your nose, let air pass into your diaphragm and fill your stomach. You should feel like your stomach is expanding like a balloon. Inhale for about five seconds, or until you feel you have taken a full breath. Never force yourself to take a deeper breath than feels natural. The point is to train your body to take slower, better breaths, not to breathe so deep that it hurts. You have to practice a bit until you find the length of breath that feels good for you.

5. Exhale.

Exhale through your mouth, not your nose. Make sure to exhale slowly, in about the amount of time you took to inhale (this can vary, though, with inhaling and exhaling taking different amounts of time for different people). Keep breathing out until you have exhaled fully.

Try this sequence several times a week, and practice regular yoga, and you should see vast improvements in the quality of your breath.