I am officially and boldly going to unmask my thoughts on masks,  as masks (by necessity) are fast becoming the newest trend being seeded in the fashion world today.

I don’t like wearing a mask.  I don’t like looking at people wearing a mask.  I don’t like to see children, hikers, bikers, runners, or lone dog walkers wearing a mask. It is because of masks that I don’t like to go to malls, department stores, grocery stores, or any other public display of maskers.

Okay, so you may or you may not agree with me, but please don’t take offense to my own thoughts and feelings.  I don’t dislike you, nor is it an attack on you if who choose to wear one.

I will preface this by adding that I assure all of you who are concerned that do I wear a mask where I’m told to. I wear a mask Inside markets, stores, and all places that say I must cover up to be allowed to enter.

From the beginning of all of this I was wondering if I am alone in the feeling of suffocation while wearing a mask.  Am I the only one who feels that I am in the midst of a claustrophobic hot flash and after 5 minutes I need to rip it off?  According to my EX-doctor,  “I was just having an anxiety attack..”

While others tell me that they forget that they are wearing a mask,  I can’t hold a phone conversation while I’m masked because I am fatigued from lack of oxygen. I can’t breathe well after a short time, so my world view seems to be very different from those I see and share it with.

I have bought a few different types of masks based on recommendations.  The latest was suggested to me by the millennial at the athletic store who said to me,  “Every one of my friends wear this mask because they can exercise with it on without a problem.” Ok, great  I’ll try it.  Well, at first that mask seemed a little bit better, but it had a wire that I needed to continuously re-adjust so it would give me some space to breathe, so in the end there was no real difference.

In one of my pleated masks I cut an invisible slit under my nose so I could sneak some fresh air and be able to breathe but someone saw it and scolded me so that didn’t work. either.

Besides the physiological effects from covering my nose and mouth in the name of “health” I am continuously saddened by seeing an expressionless society.  I can’t tell if someone is smiling (there goes the myth about “smiling eyes”) frowning, happy or sad. This is something that I hope to never get used to.

So I was thinking about what I do, and how I have lived all of my adult life.  I breathe for a living.  I teach, practice, and live about Breath.  Maybe I’m a breathing nerd , but I have seen throughout forty years of practicing and teaching yoga and pranayama that most people are shallow breathers.  If I sit next to a shallow breather I feel claustrophobic.  For many people when I’m teaching how and why to breathe more fully, I may as well be teaching a foreign language.  There is little translation between the concept of deeper breathing and how the body can actually create a deeper breath.  I had an epiphany the other day while watching a masked man walking alone on a deserted street. Honestly, my mind first went to “why is he wearing a mask?”  Then, “Doesn’t it bother him? How can he breathe?” I admit it, I did have those thoughts but then my higher mind interrupted my critical self and reminded me that breathing was not everyone’s focus in life.. Quite the contrary considering we breathe regardless if we are thinking about it or not.

I Breathe for Living.  I Live to Breathe. I Breathe to Live.  Whatever T-shirt I decide to create, I am hoping that this “new abnormal” is short lived.  I want to SEE people smiling again.

Now, slow down and take a deep breath.  Here are a few simple but valuable ways to awaken your awareness  to your breathing. You can get in touch with your body through deeper breathing while helping to bring a more calm state of mind.

For one to whom never notices one’s breath start paying attention to your breathing

Take a seat in a chair that gives you a firm support so that you are able to lift your spine with some support.  Imagine as you inhale that you are taking your breath up your back and as you exhale down the front.  This will bring into your awareness of feeling of your back expanding and your spine lifting with each inhalation.

To continue, here are a few very simple breathing practices that one of my favorite teachers in Italy posted that will help with elasticity and strength for your lungs

1. Cleansing breath

  • Stand straight (preferably outside early in the morning) with the feet at hip width
  • Inhale completely, raising the arms sideways up over the head
  • Hold the breath and start lightly tapping the shoulders, sternum, ribs, and back ribs. Drop the arms.
  • Turn the trunk to the right (keeping the hips facing straight forward) and expel the air forcefully through the open mouth
  • Repeat this whole process on the left.
  • Repeat both sides five times

2. Walking breath

  • Walk around for about five minutes (preferably outside early in the morning ) while counting five steps during inhalation and five steps during exhalation
  • What could be more simple!

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