I was in a yoga class not too long ago when the reality of how much our bodies relax on the exhale finally got through to me. The understanding came on many levels. Physically we can go deeper into yoga postures and get more benefit if we relax as we exhale.
What struck me like a bolt of lightening was how many levels this is true. An exhalation is a release. The natural thing for a body to do when exhaling is to relax, at least that is what I am told. I cannot say that has been true for my body all along.
As a child I developed asthma. I have made a lot of life decisions that have enabled me to treat it almost 100% holistically. One of the most effective methods for treating it is to exhale DEEPLY. To force all the air out of my lungs, over and over again. It is a scary proposition for someone with asthma to do this because our fear is that we will never get that next lung full of air. For me exhaling is scary. Is it scary because I have asthma, or do I have asthma because it is scary? Most likely the answer is, both. The mind body connection continues to amaze me.
I am not proud to say that the older I got, the more things that left my life had claw marks on them. I failed to see that they had lost their relevance and usefulness long before I grudgingly let them out of my tight little grip.
The biggest example of that is my marriage. My ex-husband had been a recovering addict, after we had been married for 5 years, he relapsed. Originally I had said that a relapse was cause for divorce that I would not stay in a marriage with addiction. When he relapsed, all I wanted was my old life back and for the next four years I put up the best effort I had to get him sober and get my life back. When I finally said “Uncle. This is bigger and stronger than I am, and my old life is so far in the past I barely remember it any more.” I was a shadow of the person I had been and required a lot of Shamanic Breathwork, Yoga, and Life Coaching to get me to see that my desire to have reality be something other than what it was, had been so strong I had made all sorts of decisions that were plain destructive to both of us. That my friends, is denial.
Sometimes we can get so attached to what was, that we fail to see that we are hanging on to a thing, an idea, a relationship, or an identity that hasn’t fit for a long time. After the marriage was over I invested so much memory and meaning into the things we’d had that, even though I moved states three times in three years, I drug all of that furniture, boxes, and knick-knacks over all those miles and could not let go.
January 3rd, of this year, my dear, dear dog and best friend of 9 years was diagnosed with Lymphoma. My vet said, “If I had to give it a number I would say three months.” He passed away on March 8th only two months later. I feared that with my past behavior, I would find some new way to really make a mess of things with Riley’s illness. It took some time, but one day, I knew was going to miss him, and I was going to be OK. I also knew that all that stuff I had been hauling around thinking it mattered so much, no longer mattered at all. I have been purging, cleaning and releasing my belongings in cycles ever since. The more I release, the more I relax. The more I relax, the more I realize I still have to release. Which starts another cycle of purging. I have found that when I get down to the belongings that I truly like, I no longer have to sift through all the things I never really use to find them, and I feel so much more abundant.
It was during this purging phase that my body relaxed on that exhale in that yoga class, and I got it! This is natural. Release is as natural as breathing, and it’s relaxing. So I have learned that if I fight the release, and hope to outsmart the sun the moon and the stars, when it is time. I will suffer.
I found this quote from Lao Tzu, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” I received this quote the day I sat down to write this, receiving the inspiration I needed. If the old saying that you teach what you most need to learn is true, then it is no wonder that I my soul purpose is expressed as a Breathwork Facilitator.