It’s a long time since I’ve blogged about yoga. Back in the day, I was posting about some yoga technique or philosophy on a weekly basis, but since I’ve stopped teaching the writing has taken over and now, when I’m asked to say what this blog is about, it’s hard to answer. The tagline is ‘life and thoughts of a self-underemployed writer,’ and I guess that’s as good a description as any, though I’m not sure I’m ‘underemployed’ any more as I work basically office hours, 9-5-ish, Monday to Friday. I’ve also got over the tendency to consider what I do as ‘not validated’ unless it is published: when you first start to write it’s very hard to justify the time spent doing it, and if years go by and you publish nothing that feeling can become almost unbearable.
The ultimate validation is to find your authentic voice. I’m not saying publication doesn’t matter but I think it’s more likely to come once you discover your true voice rather than striving to be a copy of something else. Still, it’s a loooooooooooong process: like Miles Davis said, it takes a long time to sound like yourself:
None of which, I now realise, has much to do with the title; as I see that I’ve written several paragraphs very much not about breathing. I have problems with breathing, as do a lot of people: I have asthma and rhinitis (like hay fever only not seasonal) and although I don’t often get a full-blown asthma attack I can feel short of breath sometimes. The rhinitis is more of a pain really, consisting of a blocked and runny nose and frequent sneezing. But hey ho – it could be worse. I could have leprosy or syphilis. I could be in a wheelchair having to prove to ATOS every couple of months that my amputated legs are still amputated and haven’t grown back.
So: what can I say about yoga breathing? I have written essays on it; entire books have been devoted to the subject – but for me the most exciting thing about working with the breath is that it gives you control. You want to take back control? Learn to breathe and you can control your heart-rate and blood pressure. You can slow down your thoughts and calm your emotions. Stuck in a traffic jam? Cut up by some arse in a BMW? Been nice to someone who was rude in return? All these things tend to raise the blood pressure and agitate the mind, and doing something so simple as merely focussing on the breath can really help. Try some of these ideas:
Just breathe – it really is better than Brexit.