On of the yoga poses I most love is Standing Bow Pulling Pose,¬†which frankly always looks easier to me in pictures than it actually is. I love this pose because when I can do it, I feel like a total rockstar. Finding the balance in that posture is, to me, the closest human beings must ever get to flying. When I’m in it, I feel light and weightless, as if the one leg supporting me no longer exists and I am suspended in air.

Years ago, I was taking a yoga class and the teacher was leading us through a pose that I love, tree pose. In one class in particular, I figured something out that would be valuable to me forevermore: balance is breathing.

I was wobbling and falling out of tree pose, trying so hard, efforting to balance on that one leg. Suddenly, something in me noticed that when I would breathe in such a way that my inhale felt like one long breath that was traveling up through the center of me, as if my lungs had turned into a column of air, that core would completely stabilize me. The trick was to focus on that breath so that I could establish that core and stabilize.

An older gentleman comes to our yoga class, sometimes. He seems a little grumpy, but he must like coming because he has continued to come for awhile. He has trouble balancing, lots of it, and as he tries to go into the posture and falls out again and again, he gets more and more frustrated and I can hear it in his breathing–the exasperated puffs of air, the grunting and groaning. If I take my focus too much off of my own breathing, I start to wobble all over the place, falling out of the posture myself.

So my mantra becomes: Balance is breathing. Balance is breathing. Balance is breathing.

As in, if I want to stay balanced, I gotta breathe. (And keeping the focus on myself, rather than someone else, certainly does not hurt!).

It occurred to me that this is another one of those yoga = life moments, where some thing that is true to get you through a posture is equally as true in the daily world. I try to notice how often throughout any given day, my breathing gets more shallow and I’m not taking full inhales and exhales, even though it’s so good for my stress levels, my respiratory system, my blood, my circulation.

On the yoga mat, when I remember to breathe, the rest of the posture seems to mostly take care of itself. I’m curious to see how much this is just like life–where, if I focused on just breathing, just staying with that inhale/exhale pattern, other things might “magically” take care of itself, as well.

Where in your life would you like to have more breathing room?