One of the challenges of this time of the year is just how much is going on. There’s so much to do and so much to keep track of that it can be overwhelming. So, here’s my usual reminder – take time to breathe.

Breath and breathing are crucial components of a good yoga class. It is one of the reasons yoga is a stress reducer. So, I do mean it literally. Take time during the day to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You’ll be amazed at how much better you will feel. Breathing nourishes the entire body and in yoga the time taken to stop for a moment allows the physical work of the class to have an impact at a deeper level.

But, I also mean it in another way. Let me share a story from one of my yoga teacher’s spring newsletter. He writes about attending a multi-day yoga conference and going from session to session. As he does this each day, he sees a friend. Once, she is napping under a pine tree.  Another day she is patiently holding an apple out to a squirrel.  The third day she is on the lawn writing in a journal and invites him to join her.  Charles writes about their conversation:

“ ‘I don’t have time. I’m on my way to a session. Why don’t you come with me?’

” Smiling, she declined the invitation. ‘I have already been to two workshops today.’

“ ‘You paid a lot of money to attend this conference.  Do you really feel like you are getting your money’s worth?

“ ‘Do you? … Can you tell me which workshops you attended yesterday and one thing you learned from each?’ ”

“ I was surprised at how little I could recall – the first three days of the conference were a distant blur.  I must admit I still attended [the talk.]  However, following her presentation I found a quiet corner in a nearby park and took time to think about her talk, and make notes on what I thought was most valuable to me. I still remember and make much use of what I learned from her presentation, which is more than I can say for any of the other equally good presentations I attended prior to her talk.”  (Charles MacInerny)

That’s breathing. Like my friend Charles’ story, when I have a day of back to back meetings, it’s like nothing gets past short term memory. I barely know what I’ve agreed to do let alone managed to remember what’s important. Taking time to process all that is going on, to identify what was most important out of the meeting you just attended, or to capture an idea from the e-mail you just read is worth the time. It allows you to process the mental work more deeply.  It clears your head so you can identify what you really needed to learn, what you really need to do next.

There is so much that we need to do, so much that we want to do, yes, so much that we have to do – and it all feels like it has to happen now. And maybe it does, but taking a moment to breathe, to reflect, taking your lunch break outside, rather than at your desk will make it easier to get done what needs doing. And doing this will help you keep your sanity and enjoy one of the best things about this time of year, taking deep breaths of the fresh spring air.

Take care,


Adapted from UTSA newsletter February, 2008.

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