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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Prichard

Yoga(just breathe)- Namaste

Updated: Feb 22

Yoga and breathing to reduce stress
Yoga in the Mountains

When I was in high school, I ran track. Specifically, the 440-yard dash, which was later converted to the metric system and became the 400-meter dash. Basically, it was one trip around the track as fast as you could go. Typically, it took me right around sixty-three seconds. I pulled out my old race records (yes; I saved a lot of things from high school...we had scrapbooks back then) just to verify. What I remember most is that when I reached the last curve before starting the straight-away sprint to the finish is that either my coach or my dad would be standing at that critical turn screaming at me to breathe! "Breathe - Breathe - Breathe," they would yell. Somehow, those words would reach my brain and I would suck in a huge breath and start breathing as I went into the sprint. Prior to that, all the way around that track, I was holding my breath. It's true, I would never take a breath until I was reminded to...loudly!

The habit of holding my breath when I'm under stress has continued throughout my life until I either scream at myself or someone else reminds me to breathe! I used to practice yoga to make it through years of stress because the very nature of yoga focuses on breathing. It's called pranayama in Sanskrit. Prana means "life force" and ayama means "stretching." When you become aware of the breath, the control of breathing shifts from the brain stem to the cortex, which brings a calmness to the body by releasing emotional and physical stress. It quiets the mind.

For the past couple of years, I've neglected my practice of yoga for multiple reasons, mostly due to work. My days were dedicated to my job, and nights and weekends, I wrote my book Finding Elvis. There wasn't a lot of time for relaxing. When I was laid off before Christmas, the world skewed and one stress was replaced by another as financial stressors descended on me. Recently, I realized that I've been holding my breath and white-knuckling it through the days. So, last week, I decided it was time to restart my practice of yoga to reduce my stress and reconnect to myself. I found it necessary to assume a "life" asana. For those of you who don't know, asana is the restorative pose at the end of a yoga practice, where you lie flat on your back, focus on your breathing, close your eyes, let your mind relax, and center yourself. It's my favorite part of yoga. The goal was to allow myself to take a step back and do a deep-dive into the meaning of life (it really wasn't that deep). It did involve quizzing myself on what makes me happy, what challenges me...and forcing myself to answer that age old question, who am I? and what do I love? There were a lot of questions, so I assumed Warrior 2 and found my breath. So far, I've been consistent in my daily practice of yoga...and my mind is a bit quieter.

What the future holds as I venture into this new journey of being a full-time author, restarting my sales and marketing consulting company, and pursuing other creative ventures I had pushed aside, is unknown. What I do know is that I have talent and skill and I should lean into those. And, as I come into that last curve of life ready to kick into high gear and head down the straight-away as fast as I can pump my elbows and lift my knees, I can hear my father's voice in my head, yelling "breathe!" So, I am.

I encourage everyone to find something that makes you stop and breathe, reconnect to yourself, and focus on the positive world around you, even when it feels like there is very little of that left. Whether it's yoga, taking a walk, reading a book, or soaking in a hot bath, give yourself a moment to just breathe! If you do take up yoga, I recommend that you start slowly with a ten-minute practice and build up to that hour-long session or hot yoga. That way you don't burn out, get too sore for day three, or get discouraged. Pace yourself and stick to it for the long-term. Remember, you have to make it around the entire track before the race is done. Soon, you will understand how to use your breath to calm your mind and focus on what is important.

I plan to continue to start my day by breathing, calming my mind, and reminding myself that I have the endurance to make it to and across the finish line. Whether I cross that finish line in first place or last is unimportant. The critical thing is to finish the race. However, I'm confident that my life training will carry me through and over that finish line. That's my plan, anyway. And I know as I execute the plan, I will be breathing as I cross, even if someone has to remind me along the way. I hope that you find your breath as well as you run your own race. Namaste!

P.S. - If you enjoy this blog, please share it with your friends and leave me a comment on how you manage your stress. Also, YouTube has many free videos that can help you develop a yoga practice.

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Feb 21

First of all, I HATED that 440! Idk why coach never made me train for it but always made me run it in the meets (in the mile relay)! Second idk if I breathed or not…I was to worried about not puking!! Nice thoughts! I don’t remember your Dad being there, but that’s sweet! I can see Coach Omdahl running next to you yelling though.

Leslie Prichard
Leslie Prichard
Feb 21
Replying to

Hahaha...don't get me started on puking. Daddy was there as much as he could be, don't you remember him bringing us hot chocolate when we were running in the snow storm (in April) at the District meet? He and my dad had a big conversation about why I held my breath. memories.

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