Saturday, March 6, 2010

Simple Advice that Works

“Just remember to breathe and tell yourself you can do it.” That was the advice my cycling teacher said – well, shouted is more accurate, along with some yeehaws and whistles. It was toward the end of the class when everyone was close to losing steam.

For anyone who doesn’t know,indoor cycling or spinning is done on a stationery bicycle and is supposed to emulate bicycling outside. You can raise the tension which makes it like riding uphill. When there is less tension on the wheel, you make it hard by riding fast. You stand, you sit, you do jumps. It is a tough class and supposed to burn up to 600 calories in an hour. Toward the end of the class, you’re sweating, you’re tired and wondering if you’re going to make it to the end. I’ve been doing it for almost nine years and the ironic thing is I don’t know how to ride a real bike.

As I was listening to my cycling teacher’s words, it occurred to me, the same advice probably would be good for any challenge. When you’re tense, you hold your breath or breathe in a shallow manner. Either one doesn’t help your energy level or your anxiety level. My yoga teacher says the whole point of yoga is the breath. She always advises directing your breath to any tight spots in your body.

I have noticed that when I get stuck on something I’m writing, or am having trouble with something I’m crocheting, I barely breathe. That lack of breath only makes me feel more tense and anxious and convinced that whatever I’m working on isn’t going to turn out. Taking a deep breath helps break the pattern.

But then you have to use the second part of my cycling teacher’s advice. You have to change your self talk and tell yourself you can do it. So simple and yet so powerful.

It worked for cycling. Everyone finished the class.

9 comments:

Peg said...

Good advice - hear it from my ballet instructor all the time!!!

Sheila Connolly said...

There was an observation on a national news show this week that people who focus on a computer screen for long periods someone forget to breathe. They recommend stepping away and moving around at intervals (and also resting your eyes). Words for a writer to live by.

Betty Hechtman said...

Interesting, Sheila. And it's definitely true. I noticed as I was starting to write this reply, I wasn't breathing. It's definitely good not to sit and stare too long.

Peg, it's amazing that we need to be reminded to breath, but we do.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I think I'd better pay closer attention to my breathing! Thanks for the observations, Betty.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, it's amazing what taking a deep breath can do. We learned this technique called ujjai breathing in yoga and doing it for a few minutes is like taking a vacation.

Camille Minichino said...

You mean I can actually leave this chair once in a while???

Betty Hechtman said...

Yes, Camille you're allowed to get up and stretch. Amazing isn't it, how you can lose track of time and hours have gone by.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Betty, that's great advice. I miss my spinning class. I need to sign up locally, as you are right, you can burn up to 600 calories an hour. Your instructor was wise. Early on a Jazzercise instructor told me the same thing: keep breathing. I know I hold my breath when I get tense.

Betty Hechtman said...

Joanna, spinning is the best. It's fun taking classes in other places. When I went to Iowa City for their summer program, I took a class through the university and one at a local gym. It was interesting to see the different type of bikes and different ways the classes are taught. I go to a women's gym, but the classes there were both men and women.