Last night I watched a couple of episodes of the newly released tennis documentary Break Point on Netflix. I am interested in learning how top players deal with their emotions before and during a match. I had to stop the film at one point to write down something the female player Sabalenka’s coach was saying: “Breath control is emotional control”.

As you might have heard, the breath doesn’t lie. We can pretend all we want that everything is fine and smile and seem good but if the breath is fast and happens mostly up in our chest, that is a sign of no real calmness within. The emotions are going up and down based on our thoughts and what is happening around us. Many people have become so used to breathing this way they view it as their normal state of breathing. What if we brought our breathing back to basics, to where it all started? That is, breathing into the belly before breathing out, the breathing out taking longer than the breathing in, and the breathing being fine happening through our nostrils. This brings internal calmness and peace, and we are back to our natural state of Being: In presence, feeling centred and whole.

If you are curious and check now how you are breathing there is no need to evaluate or judge your breathing. Rather, something more powerful is to bring acceptance to how you are breathing in this moment. When I started my mindfulness meditation course I quickly noticed that my mind was very agitated and my breathing was taking place in my chest. I was in a dark time of my life with my nervous system in high stress. I went on with my course and started bringing awareness to my breathing daily. My breath still kept on taking place in my chest for many, many months, however breathing with awareness made me feel better. I noticed how my breathing was becoming calmer as I gave it my attention. My teacher was telling me that eventually a change to my breathing pattern would happen. And it did. Will it ever be perfect I don’t know but it has improved a lot!

Every morning waking up and every evening before sleep I go to my breathing. I enjoy it so much. It helps me be in calmness at the start of the day and end of the day. I like reminding myself that a conscious breath in and a conscious breath out count as a mini meditation. Feeling my breath means feeling my body breathing and being aware of the aliveness within me. As I tune into my breathing I go straight into presence and loose sense of time.

Back to what Sabalenka’s coach was saying about breath control being emotional control. If you are stressed out about something it means you are not accepting where you are or what is happening. Your thoughts are going to the past or the future. As the body listens to your thoughts – always – it will automatically tense up. You might notice tension or restriction in your breathing too. Here is an opportunity to come into the present moment and be in charge of your emotions. Focus on your breathing, come back to you.

Remember, you are an amazing human being! All emotions allowed, there is nothing wrong with you. If you are feeling agitated in your mind it is okay and it will pass. Wishing you well,

Annette X

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children.