We wanted to share with you a blog post Kristin wrote about her workshop "The Power of Breath" tomorrow. Read on for the post.
Yoga taught me how to breathe in a way that changed my life. It taught me to use my breathing to hold myself in times when I needed to be held. And it taught me to breathe my way into the person that I imagined myself to be.
By the time that I had reached early adulthood, I was a very nervous person. All of the sudden, the world seemed incredibly unsafe. The illusions of security and fairness that had been held up by my parents, community, and school system seemed to fall away, and I was left to take care of myself feeling incredibly incompetent. It isn’t that I lacked skills or intelligence or drive, it is that I didn’t feel at home inside of myself. So I became a sort of emotional vagrant wandering through life searching for relief from my feelings of fear and unease (and as young people often do, searching in the stereotypical wrong places – relationships, partying, compulsive behavior, poor career choices, etc…) I became really out of control of my anxious reactions to many things, one of the more surprising things being flying on airplanes.
When I was growing up, my family lived several states away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, so I was accustomed to flying multiple times per year for my whole life. It seems bizarre that all of the sudden I was afraid. But there I was, on my way to Yoga Teacher Training at the Kripalu Center – my mom was sitting next to me, staring at me bewildered as I was wide-eyed in fear, clenching my arm rests with my hands, heart racing, on the verge of tears at the tiniest bit of turbulence. I was convinced that my life was in danger, and no amount of factoids about the safety of air travel could have made any difference. Because it wasn’t my intellect that was the problem, it was the fact that my nervous system was completely fried and I had no idea how to soothe it. Deep down I hoped that yoga teacher training would help cure me, and in a way, it did.
Even after 4 weeks at Kripalu, I was still anxious on my way home. But this time, I had some new tools. I used some of the breathing and breath-oriented meditation techniques that I had learned in training. I even imagined my teachers’ voices guiding me. It took immense discipline, but I was able to calm down and see that being different – being the person that I wanted to be – was possible. I’ve stuck with those techniques for the past 4 years. Eventually, my teachers’ voices became my own internal voice. Eventually, the breathing became more automatic. Eventually, I didn’t have to be so disciplined about being “in it” the whole time. I even reached a significant milestone this past weekend – when I flew to Atlanta for training, I fell asleep and actually slept for the majority of my flight. Now more than ever, I feel safe because I feel comfortable with who I am – not just in an egoic way, but on a visceral level, I know how to hold myself inside of myself and be comfortable amidst a chaotic world. All because of breathing!
Think about what would be possible for you if you had powerful tools to keep your self calm and steady in stressful situations. I am excited to share some of the techniques that I have found helpful for “toning” the nervous system, deepening the meaningfulness of my yoga practice, and being fully alive in my life. Please join me for The Power of Breath at Amara Yoga & Arts on January 31 1-3pm. Register here!