Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Breathing

This spring seems to have brought out everyone's allergies in abundance.  My kids are sneezy, red-eyed, and asthma induced.  In the past week I've had two different students experience severe asthma attacks in school--luckily they both pulled through with only momentary trauma.  Poor kidlets.

I find that we so often take breathing for granted.  It's fundamental to every moment of our existence, yet simple to overlook and under-appreciate.  I write a lot about teaching and eating, but seldom about the third of the trio: breathing.  As a person with asthma myself, I am sometimes faced with the inability to draw in a full breath, leaving me...well, breathless.  And not in the good way.  In the panic-this-is-horrible way.  Sooner or later my breath will return to me.  And I will find myself grateful.

I developed asthma right round about the 7th grade.  A discovery made on the track during the once-yearly required mile run.  Lungs.  Burning.  Hack, hack.  Cough, cough.  All through high school I swore I would never run again unless trying to catch a bus or being chased by a tiger.

Have not been chased by a tiger to date.  Have run for many a bus in my years commuting on public transit.  (Incidentally, last year I one time tripped in the process of running for a bus and somehow lost my shoe.  A kind woman brought it to me from the other side of the intersection.  I still don't understand the physics of that moment, but was glad to have my shoe returned to its foot.)

And, I am happy to say, that I reneged on my adolescent stance and have taken up running (jogging, really) in the past few years.  Slow progress, but running all the same.  During a good run, my breathing is relaxed and generous.  I like those runs--they make me feel powerful.

And of course, there is yoga.  Yoga is built on breath.  Learning to bring awareness to all parts of your body through your breath.  It sounds bizarre, but makes sense when you're in the pose, in the moment.

Sunday I went to a yoga class I don't usually attend, and near the end of class I achieved a difficult pose for the first time ever: sirsasana, a forearm headstand!  I was smiling so hard that it was difficult to stay up.  But up I did stay!  Even came home and demonstrated the pose for Greg.  No wall.  All balance, strength, confidence and breathing.  Beautiful.

This isn't me--it's a photo found here.  But this is the pose I did.  And we'll say this is approximately what I looked like.  Or maybe what I will look like soon, as I continue to practice this pose.

So, just a simple reminder: breathe.  And enjoy it.  May there be happiness in your spring breathing.


  1. I thought it was you. Beautiful photo. Beautiful girl.(you) Beautiful writing. Breathe on Baby Girl. I love you.

  2. Great breathing post! :) I like this blog--thanks to Kathryn for letting me know about it!

    On breathing: SINGING is excellent for improving your breathing, too! Joining a chorus is one of the best things you could do for yourself, breathing-wise... :)

  3. Kathryn sent me, too. Love my yoga and T'ai Chi for breathing. I have allergic asthma only occasionally. Can't run because of feet issues but I bike!

    Nice blog. Congrats on sirsasana. I am in a yoga class that is not challenging enough. We don't attempt headstands, just pretty much do the same thing every class. I enjoy it a lot but I need to branch out, I think.

  4. hi sarah.. nice to meet ya! i'm a friend of your mom's and my son josh is a teacher also..i really enjoyed this, and the picture ..even if it wasn't you, i will pretend it is because i can't even stand that straight walking upright!