Monday, January 05, 2009

Learning to Breathe

Another hour of yoga for me today.
I know that I'm going to feel stronger because of it.

One of my challenges is knowing when to breathe. The first time I took yoga classes (eight years ago) the instructor would hear me squeak from the other side of the room. He knew I wasn't breathing. Over time regular class members would hear me squeak - and know that the instructor's gentle reminder, "Breathe T." was coming next. They came to expect it. So much for Namaste!

I was concentrating so hard on the pose and the stretch that I ended up holding my breath. Wrong thing to do.

Now that I'm back in yoga I'm listening carefully to the instructors. The three instructors I've experienced so far are very good about breath reminders. They tell us when to inhale, when to exhale. That's very helpful for a T like me!

I've noticed that when they remind us to take deep breaths, and then exhale - I'm ready to exhale before everyone else is done with their deep breaths. In fact, I take two inhalations/exhalations in the time everyone else takes one.

You might think that I just can't relax. That's partially true.

But this is another revelation for me as I learn about my lung capacity.

In the past 7 years, my allergy doctor and I have determined that one of the causes for anaphylaxis and hives - for me - is exercise related. We've figured out that I get hives when my muscles are sore.
You know the soreness you get when you lift weights and build lactic acid? The production of lactic acid is actually an indicator that you're building muscle. It's a good sign. For most people.

But my body doesn't like my lactic acid. When I produce significant amounts of lactic acid, I get hives. (That's why yoga is a good gentle start for me - it builds muscle s l o w l y)
Once I learned that lactic acid was a culprit for me - I learned that a person's body produces more lactic acid when it's not getting enough oxygen.
Hello Sherlock?

I think we've isolated some important information. I have to work really hard at just breathing.

Although this is an unusual condition, I'm posting this information in hope that it might be helpful to someone else with a similar problem - but doesn't have my brilliant doctor to figure it out for them.

TRS Accountability: one hour yoga


  1. That makes sense. Well, sorta anyway, in a "why did God make our bodies like that?" kinda way. As a swimmer (ha! can I call myself a swimmer if I haven't been in a pool in months?), breathing is one of the hardest things. You really have to get into a rhythm. The first 4 laps or so (longer if I haven't been in the pool) are TOUGH, but after that my breathing gets regulated and the swimming gets much easier.

  2. That's really interesting. Even back when I was your age (a little over half a lifetime ago - wow) and I was jogging a lot (I ran a 10K in under an hour when I was 26) I never go to where I could climb a flight of stairs without being winded. And I had a lot of problems with "stitches in my side" (build up of lactic acid). I think you may have uncovered something for me!

  3. Hey Jeanne, me too!
    I always seem to live on the third floor (I like the top floor) - so I use the stairs a lot.

    In one apartment... the laundry was in the basement - a total of 4 flights from my front door. One day when I was coming back up from laundry - I heard my phone ringing and rushed in to answer - breathing hard! my friend asked what I was doing to breathe so hard - and when I told him I just came up 4 flights of stairs he acted like that wasn't much of a reason!!!

    Another time, hiking with some friends I was breathing hard after the first 20 minutes. My very fit friend noticed and said, "This part isn't even hard!"
    I know, this is just the way I breathe.
    can't believe it took me 35 years to figure out my breathing issue!!!

  4. Oh, and Jeanne... I highly doubt that you are twice my age! That would make you older than my mom who is 70!

    Just so you know, Ronnica and I are not the same age! I'm quite a bit older.
    It just made me laugh to think about it!!!

  5. Haha, you should have just let her think that. Not that you've ever been shy about your age (OR SHOULD BE).