Yoga for the Spine, Flexibility, Hips and Shoulders

YOGA – Breathe Deep for Better Living

I met my guruji in 1995 at a Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake, California, less than a mile away from the famous Warner Brothers Studios. At that time, I was still an actress and a model, living in Los Angeles. I had recently joined a new acting class, which brought with it some nervous energy I had trouble shaking. From being a confident younger woman that went on many auditions for commercial and television, I worked steadily as an actress for the first five years I moved to Los Angeles. From a lead in an independent film to booking several national commercials, I just thought this would be how Hollywood would always remain for me.

A circumstance unfolds and creates a ripple in our lives. Somehow this new acting class just didn’t resonate with my soul. Instead of feeling like more normal confident self, I found a new sense of vulnerability doesn’t lend to booking jobs in LALA Land. I had heard about this breathing coach through a friend of a friend. I knew I needed help.

In my book, MIDDLE AGE BEAUTY, I dedicate a chapter to what it was like to meet Michiko Jane Rolek for the first time. Her great-grandfather was the first ZEN MASTER to live in America. So, yes, imagine a beautiful Japanese woman sitting like a porcelain doll inside Bob’s Big Boy. The booths were bright red and shiny. She wore a pink zip-up jacket and smelled like lavender. I was in awe of her posture from the first moment I met her. Soon, I would be meeting with Michiko to learn how to breath better and practice breathing exercises. I had no idea that what she was teaching me was part of the eight limbs of yoga, the pranayama limb. Working with her helped me become aware of my breath, my body and my posture.

Michiko J. Rolek featured in the Los Angeles Times with me as her student.

Every Monday at Michiko’s place, I would sit and breathe on the floor with fluffy pillows and thick philosophy books surrounding us. She introduced me to Dr. Joseph Murphy, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and other big hitters in the world of self-help books. I became instantly hooked. It was like discovering a deep well inside books on shelves that brought joy to my heart.

And, what about acting? Yes, the auditions improved. I began to book jobs again.

However, when we breathe deep and examine our soul, messages from our heart can be heard. Dreams we might have forgotten that we once loved can reappear on the forefront of our thoughts. Breathing deep channels us inward to that sacred journey for cultivating more self-love. And, maybe you realize that your life is on the wrong path and it’s not what you wanted after all.

What’s exciting about touching the seat of your soul when you breathe (even if you think that sounds cheesy and untrue, I dare you to become a deep breather every day. I dare you!), a new form of clarity is formed in your thinking, too. You become aware of what you like, what you don’t like and what is important to you. You discover that life is precious in such a way you don’t want to get it wrong. That’s why in my mid-twenties I did a complete 180 with my world. I wrote a three act play, submitted to my agents. They loved it. Next, the HBO Workspace offered to let me showcase my writing there. I produced, directed and starred in a three act play just off of Melrose at the age of 27. It may not sound that significant. However, it was a dream come true that would have never happened without my guruji helping me learn to silence worries through the power of breath.

And, wouldn’t you know it, I would be married and pregnant and leaving Los Angeles not too long after. This personal share is an example of how Pranayama, the fourth limb in yoga, altered my future. Learning to breathe deep is like discovering a secret door to the soul. It can only be opened when our minds are quiet and we can sit in silence.

And, yes, this story continues with breathing as I discovered in my yoga training what my teacher had taught me was part of the yoga world as well. I felt like I had hit jackpot in my certification to become a yoga teacher in 2018. After many careers, motherhood and raising my son, I found the secret power of yoga within me at the age of 46. I was blown away by the effect it had on my mood, my body and the enthusiasm that I began to feel for living.

There are many facets to yoga. What I love best about yoga is the intimate relationship the practitioner develops from learning more about the body and the soul. How can we go inward without the tools that allow us to leave the external world? You can do a lot of things to find a reprieve from the rat race of life. Yoga has resonated the most deeply for me. Are you trying to figure where your life is headed an you aren’t sure of your heart’s desire? Try yoga to help you become unblocked from the destiny you are seeking. Try learning to breathe better, deeper each day to find more clarity in your thinking.

Our True North is within all of us. Our dreams have the power to manifest at any age. Yoga is the vehicle to help you radically reshape your life. Even if it’s just feeling better inside your body. Isn’t that half the battle? Even if it’s just having a new hobby and community of friends at your local yoga studio. Even if it’s just an incentive to lose weight. Even if, it’s just something you are wanting to try on a whim, do it. You might find the north star you had forgotten. It’s just like The Wizard of Oz. Those two ruby slippers just happened to come in a form of a yoga mat.

When I teach yoga, I focus on breath on each posture. I have many students that tell me after yoga class they loved focusing on the breathing, too. I smile, knowing, they are feeling that buzz that can only be attained by shutting down the chitta, our mind, and tapping into the power of our breath.

Breathing Exercise for Anxiety, Gentle Yoga
Click on photo above to practice breathing exercise with me.

This was a personal share from my heart to yours. I hope you try my breathing exercise on this YOUTBUBE video on YogaSkip and practice at least three times a week. Three is the magic number to set a habit up for the win. Start adding more days. You will begin to feel lighter on your feet, and dare I say, happier, too?

Yes, yes, yes. Happier, too.

Thank you for stopping by the YogaSkip Yoga Blog. My goal here is to inspire anyone to at least try yoga from an easy starting point. Yoga is more than touching our toes. It’s the personal journey inward to self that is never ending. When you learn to breathe better, you learn to love yourself more and the effect impacts our world directly.

Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist shared:

“By changing patterns of breathing we can change our emotional states, how we think, and how we interact with the world.”

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