Sunday, September 15, 2013


Whenever I get stressed or worried or tense, I tend to hold my breath. I think it's because I feel like I need to contain whatever I have in me and not let go -- not lose control. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one as there are many phrases that mention holding one's breath as a sign of anticipation or even anxiety (She held her breath as she waited in anticipation for his response).

In my quest to get over my fears, one of the first phobias that I went to tackle was my fear of large bodies of water. I would feel anxious not being able to feel the ground under me. Even swimming in a swimming pool, once I was out of the shallow end, would make me feel very, very anxious. I couldn't move away from the side of the pool. I didn't like seeing what was happening under water. I just felt too out of control ... and this was just in the swimming pool! The sea/ocean filled me with such anxiety, I can't even explain. Even the sound of the waves would stress me out!

So, back to my quest to conquer my fear of water -- what did I do? I enrolled in a PADI diving course to get my open water diving certificate. I thought, what better way to get over my fear than to literally dive right in!

I loved the course because it was so detailed. It went through everything, and I felt like I was in total control. Aside from all the technical things, the one thing that was most challenging for me was breathing. My diving instructor (who was phenomenal) told me - you have to breathe. It's going to feel counterintuitive, breathing under water, but you have to breathe. Your life depends on it.

It was such a strange feeling, breathing under water. I was so scared under water that all I wanted to do was hold my breath, but she kept prompting me -- breathe, breathe, breathe.

It was a great learning experience. Although I did learn many things by going through that situation, I still have to remind myself to breathe.

It seems strange, as we breathe naturally, but I find myself still holding my breath every once in a while. However, every time I do any of my trainings, the coaches always repeat one thing -- Breathe.

Yoga - breathe through the position.
Kajukenbo - breathe to help you maintain your energy and your focus
Running - breathe to help you keep your pace
Weight lifting - breathe to help you lift

If breathing is so natural, why are we always being reminded to do it? What is it that is unnatural about taking deep breaths? How is it that the one thing that indicates we are alive can be such a tricky thing to manage?

I make a lot more effort to be conscious of my breathing. I like the way it releases the tension at the top of my spine. I like the way it helps me fall deeper into a yoga pose. I like the way it helps calm my heart. I still tend to hold my breath when I'm stressed, but I'm really trying to get better at just breathing.


  1. Interesting post! I found myself consciously breathing in and out as I was getting towards the end.

    1. Me too! So funny! A, you just have a LOT of stuff going on right now. The fact that you make it through each day--impressive. :D


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