Breathing is Strong Medicine

Last week when I was driving my son to school I decided to talk to him a little bit about breathing. As I tried to translate the yogic concept of breathing into 4-year-old language, I found myself using simple words and a really animated voice to keep his attention. "Did you know breathing is strong medicine?" I asked him. "A lot of people don't know this, it's like a secret! If you feel scared or nervous, or if you have an owie, you can just breathe and you'll feel better!"

We talked about all the different things that can be "healed" with breathing. Headache, frustration, a paper cut, trouble sleeping, nervousness about Mommy dropping you off at school. The list went on and on.

I felt so happy that he was engaged in the conversation and interested in the concept of breathing.

On Monday this week a very cool thing happened. As we were driving to school, he got his thumb stuck in some part of his car seat and it got hurt. He said "Mommy, my thumb got an owie!" He normally makes a BIG deal about little injuries, so I was a little bit worried this thumb owie was going to turn into a big, inconvenient, before school drama.

I looked at his thumb and it was fine. Not crushed, not bleeding. I told him it would feel better soon.

As I shifted my attention back to driving heard the sweetest sound coming from the back seat. A deep, purposeful 4-year-old inhale, followed by a long, intentional exhale. I looked into the back seat and gently asked him what he was doing, and he said, "I'm breathing so my thumb will feel better." My heart melted. I asked him if it was feeling better yet and he replied in a matter of fact way, "Not yet, but it will be better by this afternoon."

I was so proud that he remembered to use breathing as a tool to manage his pain. By focusing on breathing, he shifted his attention away from his hurt thumb, and the pain magically disappeared.

And then I realized a secondary benefit of this breathing tool: it put him in control of his situation. And being in control is a BIG DEAL, not only for little kids, but also for adults. He didn't need an external intervention like me kissing the owie or giving him a band-aid. He had an internal tool. By using his breathing HE was in control. And as we all know, being in control of your situation almost always makes it easier to get through.

I'd love to hear from you... I'd love to hear from you... What's going on with your breathing? Are you aware of your breathing? Do you ever find yourself unconsciously holding your breath? Has breathing ever helped you get through a tough situation? Tell me about it in the Comments below!

Until next time, Zelinda

P.S. If you'd like to know more about the physiology of breathing, check out this awesome blog post by my friend and massage therapist, Annie Rinkevich. She does a really great job of explaining how breathing affects the different systems in the body.