Breathe

by Hannah the Zebra

Yoga. I’ve gone back to yoga.  I figured that I had to start doing something systematically that would build my stamina or I would never get back to work. Serendipitously the Mind Body class that I had just started at Kaiser was also emphasizing breathing as a way of reducing stress, so I was getting double reinforcement, at least in the breathing department.  Yoga told me that practicing the breathing we were doing in class at home was good.  The Mind Body class was more specific: do at least 10 minutes of deep breathing at least once a day.

So… ok. I figured I really did need to do this. At least give it an honest try.  The first week was discouraging.  I never had managed to make deep breathing work as a relaxation tool, and this first week was no different. The second week I was still discouraged and only continued the practice because it was assigned as homework. However I did not do 10 minutes of deep breathing at home on the days when I went to yoga class. I figured yoga breathing was good enough to count.

But sometime during the third week I started to notice something.  In both the Mind Body class and the yoga class we started the breathing with some guidance, and that was beginning to make all the difference.  I still was getting very distracted at home, but at least when I was in class I was able to stay with the breathing and my mind started to be more focused.  That was the point where I began to think, “Maybe I can do this.”  By the sixth week I was finding that not only was the focused 10 minutes of breathing reducing my stress, I was even beginning to be able to use it in stressful situations.  Many of us in the Mind Body class were beginning to experience the same thing.  One friend from class was even beginning to sign off on her emails with the phrase “Remember to BREATHE.”

So I did start to truly breathe because I felt that this was finally beginning to work. And one of the joyous things that has started to happen is that occasionally I become aware of being fully present in the moment.  I sometimes sit or stand in a place and think, “I have spent my whole life waiting to be here. Right here, right now. That is an incredible gift for someone with an anxiety disorder.

PS For those of you celebrating either Passover or Easter, have a blessed and joyous weekend!