Years ago, when I began taking yoga classes, our teacher Tataya would always count with us as we breathed…She would start class by saying, “Everyone take a deep breath in through the nose…two, three, four; hold it, two, three, four; exhale through the mouth, two, three, four; hold it, two, three, four.” This simple act of counting as we breathed helped us to focus on the breath, slow and steady our inhales and exhales, and allowed us to prepare our bodies for our yoga practice.
Breathing – something we do day-in-day-out, is easy to ignore. Most of the time we don’t consciously think about our own breathing, but yoga taught me the importance of this often-ignored act and its tremendous ability to calm, soothe, and connect ourselves to the greater world around us. One day in class, we were told to choose two words to help us breathe – Tataya asked us what was one thing that we wished to fill ourselves up with and what was one thing we wished to expel out. It was an easy choice for me. Love and fear. I wanted more love inside me, and less fear. Who doesn’t want more love? And fear had manifested in me in all sorts of ways at the time. I was pursuing my master’s degree, I had just become a new mom, and I had recently left a long-time career that I loved. I had a variety of uncertainties, new roles, and anxieties that would reveal themselves on an overall spectrum of fear. So, I breathed in love, and exhaled fear. Over and over again.
This was more than a decade ago, but I still find myself using these two words to help me settle my breathing when I need to calm myself quickly or even settle myself before bed. When I need to find strength and order, I can help myself through the simple, (and free!) act of slowing my breath - inhaling love, and exhaling fear.
So here is my task for you. What are your two words? What one thing do you wish to fill your whole self with and one thing that you wish to expel? Below are some sample words to help spark your own thinking. Once you choose your words, try reciting them as you inhale and exhale the next time you find yourself needing a little help to calm and collect. We would love to hear your #twowords.
Passion Energy Peace
Apathy Conflict Judgement