Breathe From the Belly

Being a human being for what, close to 26 years now, one would think I'd be a master at breathing. Or everyone for that matter. On that rainy, Friday night, I learned that breathing, in every sense of the word, was not something I did naturally.

I still get outbalanced sometimes doing the parsvakonasana.

"When you experience pain, or hardship in life, or in these asanas (poses), you notice that you stop breathing, and you hold it. That's dangerous, you could have a seizure and you could kill yourself," my teacher said. "Open your heart and breathe," was what she reiterated that night. She came up to me, listened to how I breathed and said, "You are not breathing. You're snorting. Breathe from the belly and up and back. Like Darth Vader." She said it with such gentleness and warmth that I obeyed and at that very moment I understood what it meant to breathe from the belly.

As I continued to gracefully struggle opening my hips and my heart during practice, she further continued to explain how yoga's goal was to really teach us a better way of coursing through life. "Breathe the pain away," she says.  As I tried to launch into a bakasana {or the crow pose}, however unsuccessful, I breathed in a lungful of air and exhaled until I was empty, I exponentially felt better. I also stood on my arms for about five seconds. Needless to say, I have been drawing long and slow breaths ever since.

And I thought it was just about the flexibility.

"You look happier than I have ever seen you," a visiting friend exclaimed as we gulped down fruit smoothies and peppermint coffees. We caught up over a series of healthy, non-alcoholic drinks, a signal of aging growing up whereas we used to down several bottles of wine on one night. This singular, maybe annual conversation was proof of how my immersion into the world of yoga can do to me. "You still laugh the same signature loud laugh but I am calm just by talking to you, how do you do that?," he continued.

I couldn't really say how and why --- and I know that I have my entire lifetime to truly coast this life breathing like how it's supposed to be. All I know is that I have been reaping incredible benefits from this practice and I'd like to do this for a long, long time. As my teacher said, "Open your heart and let it take you where you're supposed to be," again applicable on poses and in life.

That being said, I can't wait to become what yoga and my heart would make me.

*To those who have been asking, I practice at Echo Yoga on Perea St.