As it happens, my computer recently died – and at the most inconvenient moment possible. I suppose that I haven’t been at my sadhana long enough to have calmed my inner “A-Type” monster, because my first impulse was to hurl the thing from the balcony ledge and leap after it just to ensure that it was well and truly sorry.
I’m happy to have observed, though, that my very next reaction was to take a deep breath. We’re often told to do just that when we’re really distressed; as irritating as the advice sometimes sounds, you’ll hear “just breathe” when it’s obvious to those around you that you’re on the brink of losing your last marble. There’s solid reason behind suggestions like these, though. One of the most powerful statements that I’ve ever heard in a yoga class came from my own teacher, and it had nothing to do with alignment or asanas at all. It had to do with basic human physiology. As it turns out, when we are breathing very deeply, using our diaphragms as they’re meant to be used in relaxed breath, a certain pressure is exerted on the solar plexus, which acts as a switch in the nervous system. This interplay between the diaphragm and the solar plexus makes it a near physiological impossibility to be anxious or panicked.
While I’m not a doctor, and I must still study in order to perfect my understanding of the human body, I have made use of this advice many times over the years. If nothing else, it saved my laptop this past week from a terrible fate. It may also have preserved my wallet, as it’s much easier to repair equipment that happens still to be in once piece!
Breathwork is an important component of yoga, and one to be treated with great respect. Taking a deep breath is an easy, portable way of pausing long enough to put everything into (reparable) perspective. Just a thought for today.