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Ok cheap shot at grabbing your attention, but it worked!! And it’s true, I did inhale, and I do inhale, because that’s how I help keep calm. I’m talking about breathing and it is one of the simple techniques Totem Tamers reminds you to do, so you can regain calm if you find yourself overwhelmed. The trick is to inhale through your nose and not through your mouth, because once you are taking breaths with an open mouth, your autonomic nervous system gets activated and your mind/body connection will believe you are stressed. Consequently, if you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, it is very likely that you are open-mouth breathing, taking shallow breaths, or over-breathing. So if you close your mouth and start inhaling and exhaling through your nose, voila, you will immediately start to regulate your nervous systems response to exterior stressors. Doesn’t mean your head won’t still be spinning, but at least your physical response can be relieved and then you can get to work on whatever’s in your head.

Totems on a mat!

Totems on a mat!

The practice of Yoga (whatever method you follow) usually focuses on breathing through the nose. I have been doing Bikram Yoga of late, which is also referred to as “sweaty yoga” or “stinky yoga” depending on the day. Mondays are usually worse because most people increase their levels of toxins over the weekend, only to sweat them out in the steaming hot studio Monday morning. I know, gross. Totally. Now if you’ve never done Bikram, you may not be able to relate to the immediate chokehold of the smell that hits you when you first walk in to the studio. It’s a combination of wet dog and socks that have been worn in the middle of summer for two weeks straight in the tennis shoes of a teenaged boy. Nasty. Don’t forget that you have to breathe through your nose! So imagine little ole me, lined up in a packed yoga room on a Monday morning, sweltering at a comfy 104 degrees with approximately 30% plus humidity. On one side of me is a man I would safely say, was in his late 60’s. Impressive! On the other side of me was a man around my age (the age of fabulous, so be quiet), who was an extremely big dude. I am pretty short, but no shrinking violet, and this guy towered over me. Oppressive! At one point in the middle of class, one of these two lovely gentleman burped. I can’t begin to describe to you the odor that nailed me straight in the face, simultaneously forcing me to close off my nose and breathe through my mouth, mostly so I wouldn’t gag or worse yet, toss my cookies on my already slick yoga mat. In the maybe thirty seconds of mouth-breathing, my heart rate absolutely began to climb and I absolutely began to feel more anxiety. Of course my anxiety was warranted, because where there’s one burp, there’s plenty, and we hadn’t even gotten to the floor postures that kick off with “wind-removing pose!” I know, still gross!! What helped me get through the rest of the class, was the validation that Totem Tamers and the breathing that we remind you to do in stressful situations can help. I also didn’t want to think about any other possibilities for the rest of class, and thinking about my Totems always serves to calm me. Inhale…..exhale. Whew!

Stay well.

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