Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In the Middle, I Can't Breathe

I did not intuitively breathe when exercising. Actually, I did the least effective thing possible, I held my breath. It was as if I needed to take in a breath and hold it so I could concentrate on moving. For example, I would hold my breath while climbing stairs. The result? By the time I got to the top of the steps I was lightheaded and completely winded.

When I began to work with a personal trainer, she pointed out the folly of my ways. She taught me to breath in on the relaxation of a movement and to breathe out on the exertion. Weight lifting and exercises like crunches were suddenly so much easier to complete in multiple repetitions.

I cross stitched this sign and hung it in my exercise room to remind me to breathe.

At a recent weekend retreat, the presenter was working with us on using the breath for relaxation. She divided the circle of women in half and indicated that those to the right of her were to inhale while those to the left of her were exhaling. As I was right across from her I quipped, "I'm in the middle, I can't breathe." The next day several women mentioned how true that quip was. They're right. When I was on the fence, trying to decide what to do about my failing marriage and where to go with my life, I often felt I could not breathe. Getting off that fence and on with my life has freed me to take deep, satisfying breaths. Being in the middle is a very uncomfortable place to be. Moving forward is like exercising, breathe out on the relax, breathe in on the exertion, but breathe.


  1. And breathing out is just as important as breathing in. I was always fine breathing in, but would forget to take the time to get rid of all that used air. As if holding that little bit of breath would help me hold my life together. Doesn't work. I'm glad to be learning to breathe again. I'm glad you are, too.

  2. Ah, so true! I've found that holding on, or holding in, works against moving forward. But as long as I keep breathing in and out, concentrating on the now, letting go of hurt and betrayal, my body responds affirmatively.