Now that Arthur and the 4th of July have passed, it’s time for some more reflection and some more yoga. You know how they say life is a journey and not a destination? Well, my life seems more like a series of unfinished projects. Yesterday I tackled two of them: sew up the whole in a pillow and sew my pocket back on my pj pants. Maybe that’s only one project as they were both in the “to sew” pile. Today I am working on the loading of pictures to the computer and then out to the family….that doesn’t mean I’ll get it done, but I’m working on it. Oh, and there are pictures to be mailed too that will have to wait for another day.
I often find myself with lots on my mental “to do” list and I think this is common of many people these days. I wonder when I am going to start enjoying the things I am doing instead of staring down the massive pile of things I have yet to do. I try not to take on too much, but I believe it’s part of my personality to intentionally overwhelm myself in order to feel superhuman when I finally accomplish it all. However, it makes you feel miserable in the process and even like you’re drowning.
I’m not good at asking for help, but really like to offer it. My high school swim coach and very close family friend once told me that I would know the right person to marry when I could ask them for help. If this were true I’d still be single. I’m not at a point in my life where I’m ready to reach out and completely surrender to another person. I like things done my way and I like the sense of pride that comes from doing the things I do.
Today it got me thinking about a few more things I want to finish before the year is through, but more importantly it got me thinking about me and acceptance of me how I am. My yoga practice today was going to be one of the physical path with the Asanas as my guide. However, I think I’m going to bridge between physical and mental/spiritual by meditating on my breath.
Before I sent back the Amy Weintraub book I took notes on one of the sections about breathing (p.128-150). She noted that if you breath in your chest or see your clavicle rise when you breathe that it’s a sign you’re too much in your own head. I wonder if I were able to look back at my former self (prior to learning “how to breathe”) that I would see myself as a clavicular breather? If you breathe into your belly you tend to be more grounded and in touch with your emotions and gut feelings. I feel like I must be breathing somewhere directly around my diaphragm as I’m in my head a lot but also very in tune with what is going on with my body.
Weintraub then talks about breathing in the different sides of your nose in an alternating nostril breathing practice called Nadi Sodhana Pranayama. In observing your breath you may notice that you tend to inhale and exhale more strongly through one side over the other. The right side is a warming breath and associated with characteristics of a left brain person; more creative and relaxed. These people sometimes need to more heat building breathing exercises to ignite themselves and get motivated to accomplish tasks. The left side is a cooling breath and associated with characteristics of a right brain person; more logical and organized. These people need the cooling breath to keep them from “burning out”. These people should practice pranayamas found often in group fitness yoga classes to help them relax. I am one of these people. My right nostril is definitely blocked most days and I am a Type A personality. I also like to consider myself creative and fun. (I guess I should stop referring to Type A persons as not fun…..) I also wondered if my constant want to grind my teeth (not just at night) and the tight jaw I experience when I’m doing pranayama, or just really deep in thought, is a symptom of that congested right nostril. I want to feel balanced in my breath, but not forcibly so.
Finally, Weintraub talks about the dangers of practicing activating breaths. While the cooling breath is often very good for those who need to settle their minds, she warns that these breaths can also cause depressive moods because it can cool the brain too much. She warns too that the activating or warming breaths can lead to manic episodes in those who suffer from bipolar. Reading the book at this point both challenged and scared me. I wanted very much to try something new (an activating breath series), but struggled with the fear of finding myself in a manic state. “What if?” I wondered over and over again. I have never been diagnosed with bipolar, nor has anyone in my family. I have never even considered the possibility until the moment that I read her caution. So, I skipped that section and moved on until I had to take the book back.
I may still revisit the activating breaths some day, but I find that this fear has rooted itself a little too much and I need to dismiss it before moving forward. So, for today, to cool my mind and not let it list the 8 million things that I feel I should be accomplishing, I will just try to balance my breath and bring balance to my life.