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Change Your Life With a Single Breath

“Health, success, and wisdom depend in great part on the battle between good and bad habits.”

It is impossible to be upset while breathing deeply. If I asked you to “get angry,” think about how you'd respond. You’d probably hold your breath or make fists with your hands, clench your teeth, contract your facial muscles, and furrow your brow." You would not likely take the time to think of something that angers you. The body is a much faster vehicle for accessing the emotions. And if I asked you to relax, you’d probably soften the jaw and the muscles of your face; you’d take a deep breath in. This is a life-altering exercise and realization because it begs the question of whether we are angry for any reason at all except that our body is tight! Perhaps you aren’t holding your breath because you’re upset, but, rather, you’re upset because you’re holding your breath. Yoga reminds us again and again that how we feel and who we are is little more than a choice that we make.

Try This: The next time you hear something that upsets you, pause for a moment and take a deep breath in. And again. Consciously decide how you will respond and notice the effect. Try this on your yoga mat. If a challenging posture or one that you don’t like is next in the sequence, smile rather than grit your teeth. Does your experience of the posture change? Practice this disciplinary technique first on your mat, where you have the space to inquire and explore, and then in daily life, where the tools you've acquired in yoga really shine. This is the essence and purpose of our practice.

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