My friend and I took our spots on the floor and the Yoga instructor started to talk. He told the class of 4 people (including my friend and I) that the purpose of yoga is to give our minds a rest since they never get a chance to turn off. And from there, we began saluting the sun. As our bodies morphed from one animal to another, I found myself mesmerized by the instructors voice as he coached us to focus on our breathing. As I felt my lungs fill with air and then release it, I realized I have never really thought about what it felt like to breathe without difficulty. After about 15 minutes though, I could tell my lungs were not thrilled with the dusty air they were breathing. The focus on my breathing allowed me to notice even the subtle changes as the dust air aggravated my lungs. Intermittently I coughed as silently as I could in an attempt not to ruin my classmates’ peace and when the class was finally over, it was a sigh of relief.
While my yoga experience wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, the class taught me two very important things. First off, I never really thought about how busy our minds are. Having food allergies and asthma, my mind is in a subconscious constant high alert even if am not consciously thinking about my food allergies. It is my subconscious mind that tells me to avoid the crumbs on the table, or to check ingredients of the food I buy, or to grab my medication before I leave home. Even when I sleep my mind is still active. On nights when my asthma is bad, my mind creates a dream in which I can’t breathe only to wake me up so I realize it and can take my medications. The truth is, food allergy kid, teen, adult, parent, sibling, or family member, our minds are always on high alert preventing us from truly ever relaxing.
The other thing I learned is what is feels like to breathe normally. To be honest, the only time that I have ever really focused on my breathing is when I can’t breathe, otherwise it is just automatic. It is kind of like when you get a cold and your nose is all stuffed up and you promise up and down you aren't going to take air flow through your nostrils for granted, but as soon as the cold clears up, it never again crosses your mind. I think knowing what our baseline breathing feels like is so important. It is important because it makes it easier to recognize subtle changes in our breathing allowing us to potentially treat our breathing difficulties sooner thus requiring less intensive care (i.e. steroids, round the clock neb treatments or potential hospitalizations).
I am kind of disappointed I was so hesitant to try yoga with my mom in the past as the next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and renewed. While I am not saying go run to your closest yoga studio and become a namaste master, what I am saying is there are two super important things that we, as food allergy community members need to keep in mind. The first is that it is so important for our health to find a way to give our mind a break from being on constant high alert. Constant stress can effect our immune system and trust me, our already wacked out immune systems are compromised enough without the added stress. The second is that being in touch with our bodies is so important in recognizing any potential changes in our health so that we can address it as soon as possible.
And with that, I say Namaste.
Have you found a way to allow your mind to relax? Let us know in the comments below!