Inspiration - the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something different. Inspiration - the drawing of breath.
It was at a Max Strom workshop over 10 years ago I first heard those two definitions linked together. Prior to the workshop I had noticed I had a really long exhale but struggled to inhale deeply and no matter what I tried in my yoga practice it wouldn't change. The timing of the workshop was just right, although it was teacher training, perhaps I would find something to resolve this unusual breath pattern.
Halfway through the workshop Max talked about emotional and physical issues that can be reflected in the quality of our breath. He explained how people can struggle to inhale fully when in the midst of grief, depression or at a low. Their exhale can be super long as instincts try to let go but there can be little to inspire you and so the struggle to draw a full breath.
It was as if he had tuned right into my inner world and those words were aimed at me. My struggle for inspiration now made sense. I was a person in that process of trying to let go, my husband had passed away nine months beforehand - I hadn’t realised my breath was reflecting my emotional state - grief.
Those words and definitions had such an impact - they the were start of my journey to doing and feeling something different - how I breathe.
10 years on I use movement and breath patterns for emotional and physical well-being to release tension from the inside out. Whether it is releasing tension held in the abdomen as a result of stress, massaging the intercostal muscles to create room to breathe, promoting lymph drainage in the chest or armpit area or simply lying in stillness - it all involves skilfully and in an embodied way tuning into the depths of the breath.
The breath is like an inner ocean. It can be shallow or deep, it ebbs and flows, it’s powerful like waves. For many of us we can spend our lives splashing around on the surface of the breath never taking the opportunity to dive deeper. If you do, you may discover down in those hidden depths of the breath is the door to transformation.