Inside the yoga studio; outside the yoga studio; don’t panic.

I don’t know if you remember my earlier post about the class I took in Seattle at The Sweatbox, Let’s Get Personal, but in it I referenced the fact that “I knew it was going to be a tough class from the start” because I was breathless during the first few breaths of the first breathing exercise. This is true and it’s something that I still deal with regularly during class. It is one of my most persistent challenges.

The feeling reminds me of what I hated about swim team as a kid (and why I quit). That feeling of having a lack of oxygen, wanting to hyperventilate, getting dizzy and trying to gasp for air. This was what was happening to me in class the other day, when the teacher said “Don’t Panic.” Immediately I tried to rationalize my thoughts. I was getting enough oxygen (in fact the reason for dizziness is the increased amount of oxygen flowing to the brain). The only way to slow down my racing, panicked, heart was to slow my breathing. I concentrated on timing the movements and breathing so that the flow was constant and unbroken; so I never had to hold my breath. I attempted to clear my mind of everything and simply breathe.

I won’t tell you that I magically calmed down and found this incredible meditative space. That isn’t what happened. I was able to slow my heartbeat down a bit, and I was able to free myself from the grasp of terror to some extent, but I still felt scared. I still had moments of lung burning panic, but I continued to struggle through them to try to find a more calm space for myself. I believe that this will continue to get better.

In this fantastic article, by a woman who did a 60 day challenge (!!) she refers to some of her thinking as “all-or-nothing” thinking. This is really what it all comes down to, because it’s about not letting one thought overwhelm your whole thinking. In a challenging class, for example, you can have an internal monologue that says something like “I did poorly on the last posture, and so this whole class is going to go badly.” Alternately, you can have an more positive dialogue with yourself that encourages a clean slate for each posture. Every moment you spend in class is an opportunity to change, grow, learn, and try your very best. Every posture has the potential to be the best you’ve ever done. You can do this in life too: every moment is an opportunity to start over. If you make a mistake, so what? The next moment is a fresh start.

Positivity is about being able to gain perspective, and allow yourself to accept the fact that you are in control of your thoughts and actions. Positivity is about learning how to forgive yourself, and try again.

That’s a lot of power when you really think about it.