September is National Yoga Month. I live the wonder of yoga both personally and professionally each day. While September usually represents the beginning of a new school year, yoga offers students a new curriculum for life. Its intimate learning process involves unwinding tension in the body. Each pose becomes a private lesson in living and breathing, diagnosing and healing, acknowledging and letting go. I am not a yoga instructor; however, I find myself reminding patients to slow their breathing, breathe into their pain and use breath to become more conscious of life.
When breathing is constricted, life can become shortened. As breathing expands, life becomes fuller. Many patients present to the Emergency Department with difficulty breathing; experiencing a near drowning, life and death situation. Many times their lungs are fine, yet patients feel a virtual life vest squeezing them as they insist, “It’s not anxiety doctor; order a chest x-ray. Let’s stop talking and do something!” Unfortunately, people need to be at whit’s end before becoming willing to engage in serious conversation about breathing fully, living consciously and taking measures to allow life to end peacefully.
Personal empowerment and security is realized in the ability to breathe, both prospectively and retrospectively. Prospectively, my intention to practice yoga was to strengthen my back shortly after the terrorist attack on 9/11. Retrospectively, I became aware that yoga cultivates personal security. Coincidences in life are conscious and unconscious. Similar to breathing, the mind-body connection occurs unconsciously. Consciously, yoga allows me to be less concerned about situations outside myself and out of my control; creating awareness around what I can do and when to let go. Finding solace allows for smooth transition. The ultimate yoga pose is the embodiment of the corpse pose.
Yoga students realize the difficulties resulting from doing nothing; becoming less human and more spiritual. The disciplined practice of yoga is a microcosm of me and my shadow respecting life and death through Namaste. Namaste honors partnership. One of its depictions states, When you are in the place in you and I am in this place in me, we are one. This mind-body connection or spirit-shadow oneness occurs in the valley of the shadow of death; abiding in nothingness. Yoga provides an essential union between nothingness and peace. Peace is attained when hands are prayerfully folded over the heart-center. The sequence leading up to that moment and ultimately the end of life itself, culminates in one final expiration of fulfillment.