“Breathing out the Upsetness”

While visiting our son Jacob this week, his 16-month-old daughter, overtired as we walked around a local park, started to fidget and cry in her stroller. Jacob picked her up and asked her if she wanted to “breathe out the upsetness.”  Intrigued and amused as we often are by our kids’ parenting, we asked what he meant.

He’d taught his three-year-old son a deep breathing technique as a way to deal with the anger and frustration that plagues any busy toddler when they can’t understand rules; like why they have to hold your hand when crossing the street, or why they need to take a nap, or why they have to share their toys with a sibling.

Meira’s a bit too young to understand breathing as a way to calm herself down. Her brother seems to get it; though his mother said whether or not it works depends on how much he’s upset.

I thought about how breathing is essential in yoga. 

In one of my classes this week, the instructor, Dana  talked about how yoga is not a 5K run, or a half marathon, or a marathon. It’s not a race but a practice that is refined and refined and refined. Forever. There’s no  “did it and you’re done,” but a lifetime of fine-tuning the nuances of a posture, the tiny, subtle movements of a pose to maintain balance and improve strength.

I can focus in yoga. I don’t need music or conversation.  I’m not competing against others, even though there are many who can do things I can’t. There are poses I used to do and can no longer do. I accept this. I leave class clear-headed, energized, and hopefully have strengthened my core to keep me centered on my bicycle for years to come.  I breathe and let go.

Yoga classes have pervaded all exercise programs and gyms. There’s yoga for the office and airplane,  yoga in schools and yoga in prison. Breathing exercises, a companion of yoga practice, makes a lot of sense to calm irritable behaviors.

As Congress debates gun law legislation perhaps they should consider adding more yoga and breathing exercises to the mix. Perhaps if those incarcerated had had yoga as children, they wouldn’t be in prison now. Perhaps more people could grab a sticky mat and hang out in downward facing dog a bit every day, practicing “breathing out the upsetness.”

SY Demonstrating how he breathes out the upsetness

SY Demonstrating how he breathes out the upsetness

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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23 Responses to “Breathing out the Upsetness”

  1. One of my favorites. If any of your readers want coaching in “breathing out the upsetness,” they can check out my site: http://www.glorytothehighest.com

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  2. Coming East says:

    Love this. I always feel so peaceful after my yoga class.

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  3. I have been practicing yoga breathing techniques to deal with stress at work, pain in my back and shoulder and falling to sleep at night. It makes so much sense. That is why I love these two brothers who started The Holistic Life Foundation http://www.hlfinc.org/about%20us.htm
    Great post.

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  4. Naomi says:

    That is fantastic. What a great approach if it works.

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  5. OmaOrBubby says:

    Love it! Reminds me of a chapter in my book, “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!”
    The chapter is called “Senior Moments Worth Remembering” and I recount the way my daughter-in-law parents her kids – so cute and wise and different the way I spoke to my children. I really admire this generation in many ways….
    Your children sound adorable and special. I like the pic of your grandson, SY. Have nachas!

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  6. I love the expression your son minted: “Breathe out the Upsetness.” Wonderful concept, and impressive that a three year old child can understand the technique. You have an adorable grandson and he is obviously brilliant as well.

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  7. Love this post Lisa! What a wonderful way for your son to share mindfulness with your grandchildren… and how fantastic, if they get it.

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  8. Have been mulling over a “gentle yoga” class at my gym. This was a nudge in the right direction. Breathing out my upsetness would be a pretty nifty trick to know.

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  9. Love the concept. I will show this to Kath for Mazen. And the photos are so sweet. Your grandchildren are adorable!

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  10. You might be on to something there Lisa!

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  11. notquiteold says:

    I confess that I cannot stay focused in Yoga. My mind wanders off – relentlessly. But once in a great while – for a second or two – HERE I AM. And those brief moments are enough for me.

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  12. Colline says:

    What an interesting way to get children to calm down. I like it.

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  13. Pingback: Knitting Away the Stress: Not for Women Only | cyclingrandma

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