I don’t know about you, but I often rush from one thing to another. Life is busy and I find I fly through my day and sometimes don’t slow down to breathe and appreciate a single moment. I have a teenager, and sometimes I want to rush through his teen years, because honestly, they are hard years. I recently took a training course, and there were times when I wanted to rush through certain parts just to be done. I can be so focused on the destination, that I forget to slow down and enjoy the moment. I forget to slow down and breathe, deeply and consciously.
We often take for granted that breathing is a natural skill; everyone knows how to inhale and exhale. Everyone can sit and breathe, but it is important to mindfully breathe as we move about. Being conscious of your breath can help manage the difficulties in everyday life and force you to be in the present moment.
How do you learn to consciously breathe? Yoga. I know it sounds cliché to say that a regular yoga practice will help you learn to consciously breathe, slow down and be more present in the moment, but it is true. I used to find myself rushing to get into a pose, before the teacher would finish her/his instructions? Almost like I was rushing through my practice just to check it off my list. With lots of practice, I discovered when I focus on my breath, my movements slow down. I move more gracefully into and out of poses. When I hold poses, I focus on my breath and it really allows me to be in the present moment instead of thinking about what is on my grocery list. For almost an hour, my mind is empty (I won’t lie, I do occasionally think about my grocery list).
How do we practice conscious breathing in everyday life, off the mat? Try to consciously breathe, as you do when practicing yoga, on your way to work or to the market. Be aware of your surroundings. Breathe in and take note of how blue the sky is or smile at a stranger. When you are frustrated, upset or even happy, take a moment to breathe. Don’t lean forward into the next moment, or reach back into the previous moment. Just be present.
I must admit, I find it difficult to consciously breath all the time. We are a busy bunch of people. There are always emails to answer, calls to return, work to done, dinner to be cooked, and children to be looked after. But like yoga, conscious breathing takes practice. Start practicing today.
Smile and just breathe.