I am disappointed with myself right now because I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

When I’m on the yoga mat, I’m all about breeeeathing, feeling the flow, living in the transitions. When I dance, I’m always reminding myself to breeeathe. When I have to get something “icky” done like a blood test, I breaathe through the procedure as if I’m in a yoga class, trying my best to experience it as it comes, no judgment, no tensing up. Don’t clench, don’t resist.

But, the problem is that when it comes to truly tough stuff–like death–I clench, I resist, and I forget to breathe.

I realized that this morning as, during my commute to work, I was “prepping” myself for my aunt’s funeral tomorrow. I was envisioning who would be there, what they’d be doing: My mom will probably be crying the whole time. My grandmom may burst out into tears. Sad music will most likely be playing in the funeral home. It will be difficult, but I will be STRONG! If memories of my aunt crop up as I sit there during the viewing, I will smile with fondness, not blubber like a baby. I will resist any urges to tear up, and I will be a role model for all those around me!

Essentially, I was prepping myself not to breathe.

Because how else can you prevent yourself from truly experiencing your emotions? You hold your breath. You breathe shallowly. As it was stated so eloquently during my YTT, “inhalation increases sensation.” The moment you allow your cells to be fully nourished with oxygen, they are more receptive to physical and emotional pain. Likewise, restricting that oxygen decreases sensation; we may exit from the difficult situation (e.g., funeral) tear-free, but now we’re also rigid and lifeless and just a shell of our true selves.

That’s the nature of Kripalu yoga, the lineage in which I received my teacher certification. In fact, one of Kripalu yoga’s mantras is “Briffwa,” or BRFWA: Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. This not only applies to holding a yoga asana but to being in any of life’s more difficult situations. Take a deep breath. Don’t clench. Allow the tears to fall. Acknowledge the tears falling, the wrenching feeling in your gut. Don’t judge the emotions, and don’t overanalyze the situation either.

Just live in the moment. Just breathe. Just be human already.

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