At the end of a strenuous workout with more time on the clock, Candace Taylor (the instructor) says something like: let this be your mantra, all your body needs for you to do is "show up and breathe." Honestly, all I heard was "bReAtHe."
Let's transport back to that moment:
I am turning red, straining, and my inner-voice starts in, "maybe this should have been a low-impact day... no one is watching... you can just quit early...do I hear the boys?...blah...blah...blah..."
"Show up and breathe."
A body scan happens, I am not breathing. In fact, my shoulders are just below my ears and I've been in a negative-thought trance.
IINNNNNHAAALLLLEEEE. Exhalllleeee. And again.
Within the last cycle of breathing, my body naturally begins to relax. I allow oxygen into my muscles and suddenly my intention and mind shift away from the spiral. I come back to the moment, to the movement, to the realization that my body has it. My body is showing up and accepting the challenge. It's performing.
And then all of a sudden a verse pops into my mind:
"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." (Genesis 2:7)
And at that, gratefulness floods the space - this breath is a reminder that there is life within my body.
oxygen & life
The essential nature of breathing cannot be understated. In the most informative & interesting article, I've read on breathing: How to breathe during a workout, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., pulmonologist and director of the interventional pulmonology program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine - says:
"Each time you inhale, you take in oxygen, which your body needs to function. The more that you move, the more oxygen you need. Think of oxygen as a sort of fuel for your muscles. In order for you to do anything—talk, walk, exercise—you need to get oxygen to your muscles."
I highly suggest reading the article if you're at all interested in how oxygen affects our bodies. The piece also explores how proper breathing helps you lift heavier, gives more muscular endurance, and can help decrease recovery time.
oxygen, ital food, & interconnectedness
My sweet big boy would not approve of an oxygen article in our nature-based website if I didn't also mention oxygen & photosynthesis. I'm not going to say too much, the diagram & this National Geographic article say it all, but like my oldest baby says:
"we breathe out releasing carbon dioxide - that feeds the plants - and then the plants feed us oxygen."
And the miraculous thing about plants is that they don't "die" as soon as they are harvested. To be honest, based on how fresh your fruits and veggies are - they may still be alive. And if you're like, "wait, plants are alive?" Please read this Elsevier article on biology & the ecosystem.
The interconnectedness of breathing cycles, is one reason why Rastafarians spiritually choose to eat ital food (fresh food that still breathes).
Eating naturally is both a spiritual and practical matter for Rastas: The healthier you eat, the less you have to see a doctor—a concept just now catching on in the mainstream. As processed foods were being introduced in the 1950s, Rastas took a firm stand against them even before research proved how unhealthy they can be. - Kelsey Nowakowski,environment and food security journalist
slowing down to breathe
To gently land this plane - the beauty of showing up & slowing down enough to breathe... isn't just a workout thing...it's life. So often it's all that's needed. And when this breath can be taken outdoors amongst the plants that you "feed" and that "feed" you...you are practicing interconnectedness - your moment of self-care blesses and brings energy to your body, the environment, and others.
Breathing produces energy and gives life...
Peace & Love, my friends!