“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.