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The Power of Breath

Inspiration is all around us. If I look around me there are plenty of people I admire like the young girl who does the paper round every morning to help her mother, Pradyumna Kumar, a gentleman who was so defiant to be self-sufficient and cycled his way to Sweden for love and this summer, I saw sunflowers growing out of a pile of rubble scattered at the opening of a very tired and drained out front door. Each new day brings with it some association to be connected to life and this world. Mahatma Ghandi once said “your life is your message”. A quote that strongly resonates with me.

It wasn’t until the ten-year anniversary of tricuspid valve repair in 2016 that I truly began to question my purpose and why after so many struggles a decade ago, I was blessed to be part of this beautiful thing called Life. Consequently, at that very time I was so grateful as well as having intermittent moments of having panic attacks, anxiety and diagnosed with Paroxysmal Atria Tachycardia, a form of arrhythmia. I decided it was time to take ownership of my condition and do something that can give me the tools to understand myself better.  I joined a foundation course in Yoga, a spontaneous but very worthwhile “living for the moment” decision.

Yin yoga taught by my very talented yoga teacher Kate, taught me how to accept and let go of negative energies such as anxiety through breath. Yin yoga is very meditative as it concentrates on holding postures for long periods providing us with grounding and ability to really appreciate our breath and applies pressure to connective tissues to improve flexibility, circulation and cultivates inner silence. Its philosophy and tradition comes from the Buddhist tradition and its aim is to bring about balance in the body and mind by concentrating on yin energies via yoga practice and combined with yang energies of everyday busy body lives, it brings about balance.

 The benefits from this practice has very much changed my outlook on myself as an individual as well has help restore and connect with myself on a more spiritual level. The breath exercises, or pranayama, has profoundly impacted my life as I am now able to manage my anxiety by just breathing. Our powerhouse, our main station that we have control over. By managing your breath and embracing the anxiety, it too will dispel and go. At one point I was too afraid to drive on large motorways and for years, I took the long way round to dodge the vastness of the lanes and the long lorries in the hope I would never face it again. I chose to debilitate myself due to my mind even though there was a time I was able to bomb it down to Wales for days away enjoying the Welsh culture and beautiful beaches. I decided it was only me who could help me. Silencing and going within has brought out a sense of self preservation and how it is paramount to put energy into yourself to fulfil the demands of daily life and taking control. I do now drive on motorways, a bit on the slow lane but still, little steps.

I cannot stress enough how passionate I feel to have explored and experienced yoga as the poses can be tough but with every pose you’re embracing your own ability. It teaches you to appreciate what you and your body can do and not fight your body to just flow with how far it wants to go. It’s about finding love and care for yourself and more than anything, it for me is about experiencing that sometimes old traditional practices like yoga and meditation should be brought back as treatment for mental and physical health as its benefits on people are tremendous and from my personal story, it is a way of life I would like to continue and share with everyone. It also teaches you about your ego and how sometimes having the last word or wanting to be bigger or better than everyone is not the way, it is just fascinating.

All the strength and power to carry on through our trials and tribulations are right here. Right within our own bodies. Very accessible, easy and absolutely free. Make time in the day, even five minutes, to do this. It not only reduces anxiety, I believe it also boosts your immunity, energises and by combining both yoga postures and meditation, you feel a sense of relaxation and ease to step away from daily calamities. It gives you the means to cope with everyday problems as you’re clearer headed and can problem solve easier.

Connecting with you and being with you can at times be difficult for some of us especially when we feel not at our best and are at times struggling to even be with ourselves within our bodies. However, by taking time to just breathe, a basic but forgotten phenomena, the only tool which is with you from the day you are born is like a magic wand. Take control, take ownership and with strength and motivation, grow. Appreciate the beauty within you and around you, birds, bees, trees. Then we will begin to understand that through our battles and hardships we too can grow like that sunflower from a pile of rubble and rise.

Sending you all love, light and happiness.

By Millie Pandya

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