Awhile back, Valentines weekend actually, Bill and I made a discovery. I can hold my breath waaayyyyyyyyyy longer than he can. For whatever wine-induced, basketball-watching reason, we started having breath holding contests. I kicked his butt over and over again ... at which point he admitted that not only was he losing, but he was cheating and losing! At the time he was training for a marathon and had great lung capacity. I was running 20 miles a week - max. What was the deal?
Yoga. Of course.
A major part of practicing yoga is controlling your breath. Part of the idea behind vinyasa yoga - the type of yoga I (mostly) practice - is based on moving with your breath. Stand up on the inhale, fold on the exhale, half-way lift on the inhale, high to low plank on all one exhale, updog on inhale, downdog on the exhale. And on and on. When I first started 'taking' yoga I ignored the breath - all I cared about was making it through the moves. I was taking three inhales/exhales for every one inhale ... basically I was panting my way through practice. It wasn't until much later in my practice that I started focusing on flowing through the postures with control of and in time with my breath.
I write all this now because over the last few days I have had fantastic connection with and control of my breath. Remember that 5K I just ran? Never winded - I felt in control of my breath the whole time - only my legs and my fear were holding me back. Yesterday I went for a run before Victoria's class. Again, not winded. As I settled into class I set the intention of presence, specifically to be present in my breath. We started in child's pose and I was easily inhaling for 10 count, exhaling for 11 count. As we went through the practice I felt I was pretty steady in keeping an inhale for 5 count exhale for 6 count. And yes, I do actually count my breath as I move through practice.
I was so thankful to be present and focused on my breath. It was such a release after last weeks string of disaster practices. Even now, writing this hours after practice, I feel calm, peaceful and in control. To breathe is a wonderful thing.