Over the last two days or so we have come into altitudes that puts real pressure on the body in various ways. I typically have to stop a few minutes after starting to hike to catch my breath, not because I am tired but because I actually cannot breath. Albeit uncomfortable, my lungs are strong so typically once I got the momentum going the rest of the trekking could commence with its usual pace. I almost entirely have yoga to thank for my strong lungs and endurance, because when I was younger I had neither. The continuous flow of strong, calm breath that I have built in my practice has evolved my body and life in general in a very healthy way. You underestimate the power of breath until you don't have it, which contrastingly makes you feel weak, exhausted and disempowered.
Not being able to breath has always been an unsettling feeling to me for many reasons and today I hit the breaking point. For reasons unbeknownst to me it seemed like I just could not breath, no matter how many times I stopped to catch my breath. I don't believe it was altitude as the altitude wasn't very different from previous days. Regardless, something wasn't working. The frequency of these breaks began to increase and I got a stitch in my side; then the PTSD of my childhood anxiety and panic attacks set in and everything began to snowball...
When I was a child I would have panic attacks. I always had a very shallow, short breath and though I would run around like any other kid I was somewhat limited by the difficulty in breathing and the resulting cramps. I never won races. Around the age of ten when I began to struggle with my own forms of anxiety and depression everything combined to create some awful sensations. I would get worked up with anxiety and suddenly it was like someone would grab my chest and squeeze, no matter how hard I breathed I got very little air. Similarly, the harder I tried to breathe the more wound up I would get and it would quickly spiral into anxiety attack.
As I grew older my depression and anxiety worsened, I felt as though my heart and lungs were in a very small cage, they ached. I could feel fits coming on because the aching would kick in. As I slowly climbed out of my depressive hole these attacks subsided slightly but my physical performance still suffered... I could never run or hike without having to stop and break frequently, even when I was in great shape. I remember recognizing that my legs were capable of anything, but it was my lungs that stopped me from physical feats.
Eventually around the age of 21 I gained control over the depression & anxiety, the "fits" became more infrequent though my lungs were still weak. I began doing yoga and slowly began liberating my chest from that little cage that had contained it all these years. Through yoga I noticed the physical, emotional and mental manifestations of having a closed off heart and lungs. With my improved practice came heightened awareness of my body and this affliction, I was able to make observations and draw conclusions. Despite improvements there were still poses that I couldn't get into and it bothered me, I knew I was strong enough. I quickly learned that these limitations were the result of having a chest that was far to tight to stretch and expand into the poses. Ugh.
Fast forward about a year, I stumbled into having a Soul Realignment reading. Aside from being one of the most pivotal and amazing things I have ever done for myself, one of the blocks she reviewed was at the 4th chakra (heart and lungs). I don't remember the details, but I do know that within a few months as these energetic blocks lifted, so did the cage around my heart and lungs. I'll never forget the first hike I did without feeling totally winded, it was amazing. I came home and attempted a few of the poses that I was previously limited from and I DID IT!
After this day when I imagined my lungs and heart I would imagine a butterfly, light yet powerful and entirely free.
Nowadays, every so often something painful and intense enough will bring on a similar panic attack, but they jolt me back to the past days of these fits being a regular occurrence. Luckily if I do experience this, I have much greater control over them- thanks to my yoga and Soul Realignment practice- where before I had none. Today, when I couldn't breath I did my best to take my time and focus on getting to the lodge. I was very well aware of what I was experiencing, which gave me the control to make it one step at a time. Once I got into the lodge I collapsed on the bed with headphones, eyes closed listening to my music. Sitting still I opened up and allowed myself to cry, releasing anything that had gotten congested in my system. I slowly came back to life. I found my breath, my calm, my power.
I live with an open heart and lungs full of life.
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.