It’s a word that keeps coming up in my life this year. In fact, in some ways, it could be the word of my year. Breathe …
I have it repeated to me over, and over again every Wednesday evening during my Total Body Stretch class. And I embrace it there because I haven’t been in physiotheraphy since I started taking that class. I feel taller, I feel better, and I hurt less. So, when the instructor says to breathe … I do!
Breathing came up in the things I did that were out of my comfort zone this year as well. Recording the Appaloosa Summer podcast was all about the breathing. During my first session on the recording studio, I’d finish a couple of pages gasping for air. By the end, I could read an entire chapter, take a tiny break to let the recording engineer tidy up a couple of things on the file, and start reading again. Easy!
In the studio it was all about forgetting about my breathing – just letting it happen. We all do it, so it’s OK if podcast listeners know I’m breathing – it would be much more worrying if I wasn’t!
Recently I had a new author photo taken. This was also way, way out of my comfort zone. I strongly dislike having my picture taken, especially when it’s important. For the first time, I actually shared this information with my wonderful photographer and guess what she told me? You got it – breathe. What a concept. I came away with over a hundred photos I like, and several I really like … just because I breathed when they were taken!
Maybe the most important time to breathe is when I’m riding. This is something I learned a while ago from a coach I rode with a couple of times. You know when your horse does those big, noisy, lip-flapping, exhales? Do one too. Right back at them. People watching might think you’re crazy, but it’s literally impossible to hold onto tension when you’re exhaling through your lips like that. Try it!
I also think it’s kind of polite – it’s a communication with your horse – he’s saying “I’m settling in, I’m relaxing,” and you’re saying “Thanks. I think I will, too.” It always works for me.
People who’ve followed my blog for a while know I’m currently riding a huge, handsome, handful of an off-the-track-thoroughbred. He’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s energetic. My biggest tool to keep him under control isn’t my hands, or my seat, or my legs – it’s my breath. If I keep breathing – if I stay relaxed – if I focus on calm rhythm, then everything else falls into place. I use the right weight of hand and leg. He responds. We’re OK.
The surest way to get him wound, is for me to get wound. And, after that, it’s no contest. He’s ten times my weight and strength, and if he wants to muscle through me, he will.
So I use my usual mental checklist on him – of course I do – heels down? Leg on? Straight line from elbows to bit? Light contact – half-halt when needed? Yes, yes, yes, but between each of those is breathe. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
I can’t really think of a situation when breathing is bad so, even though I’m not a doctor, or any kind of medical professional at all, I’m going to go ahead and recommend that you remember to breathe …
Does this make you think of any stories you’d like to share? I love hearing them!