Don’t forget to breathe

“Don’t forget to breathe.”

~from the movie “The Forbidden Kingdom

How many times have you caught yourself holding your breath when you’re faced with a challenge?

That was the theme for the second karma yoga class that I taught, as part of my teacher training course.  I don’t go to a lot of movies these days but I do have a few favourites on DVD that I’ll watch over and over again.  Even though I’ve seen them countless times before, I always seem to find something new.  I marvel at the choreography of the kung fu scene between Jackie Chan and Jet Li.  I love the part when Jet Li gives advice to Jason, before his big fight with the Jade Warlord.  It might be just a movie but his message rings true for me.

A few years back, I had to do a lump removal surgery on a Husky.  The mass on the side of the face was huge and oozing.  We weren’t sure if it was a tumour or just a very bad abcess.  It was important to take it off, preserve enough skin to close the wound and avoid the major nerves and blood vessels that were lurking underneath.  A lot to think about but I had good techs for the anesthesia and a colleague to consult with in case I got into a bind.  I do remember that time seemed to slow down during the 1.5 hours that it took to do the procedure.  I was aware of my own breath and very conscious of what I was doing during the surgery.  Happily, the lump was removed successfully (turned out it was an abcess) and without complications.

I’d been doing yoga for about a year at that point.  Although it sounds cliche, I know that having to face challenging poses on the mat, and to continue to breathe mindfully through the asanas, is what helped me stay focused and calm as I worked.  The breath just happened by itself because I’d practiced it so much during yoga.

I’m still very much a work in progess, as I forget about my breath when I’m feeling rushed or overwhelmed or tired.  All I can do is keep practicing and doing my yoga.