Don’t Forget to Breathe . . .


Happy Hump Day, Yeah Baby!

This is pret’ near Christmas Week, isn’t it!?  Now, I know some who do not celebrate it … I probably won’t this year … but so be it!  Keep the reason for the season in your heart – LOVE!

Especially during the festivities, we need to keep a close watch on each other.  I was just thinking how difficult it must be to celebrate (or NOT) a traditional holy day like Christmas … without family!?  Well, if you’ve got a few friends – near or far – they are often like family!  This is my testimony today.  Oftentimes, also during these “holy days”, we scurry around so much, “runnin’ in circles”, that we forget to breathe …  I know, I know … NOT YOU, of course!  “You” always breathe.  I often said the same thing until after a few tense incidents, I actually checked “myself” … not the “other person” … but MYSELF!!  I wasn’t breathing fully.  My lungs were NOT filling up with air … It was almost like I was suffocating myself with short and rapid breaths.  My mind wasn’t functioning as clearly as when I breathe deeply …  So, I stopped (as I do regularly now) and took a deep breath …  “Ahhhh ….”, I whispered as I let the air out slowly!  Yogi practitioners know this … breathe … deep breaths … then let each one out slowly!  One can feel (at least, I can!) the clarity of thought, the ease of temperament, the depth of focus.  Don’t be runnin’ around taking short breaths, panting as if you are some rabid animal!  You are a beautiful soul and a wonderful spirit inhabiting this vessel called “the body”!

These past few days, my body has been calling for me to do some stretching at least.  The discomfort that I feel in my hips sometimes”freezes” my thought process so that I don’t want to stretch since it “hurts” a bit.  Well, these past few nights, I did “bed yoga”!!  Never heard of it?!?  Me either!!  Yet, I went into my “reclining pigeon” pose while laying on the bed and reached for each big toe on the foot of the extended leg as I stretched my upper body and head to reach upwards!  It felt good.  Now, it was sore when I first put my legs in that “4” shape and pressed the left ankle on top of my right knee … and vice versa.  So, I breathed deeply … and held the position for as long as I could.  Finally, feeling under control again, I went into the shoulder stand … yep, still on this queen-sized soft as cotton mattress … and stayed there for a few moments … like 30 seconds.  I still do a lot of walking, and, it causes my back to feel some tension and the hip muscles get all tight.  A couple of days ago, there was a young lady from the state of Washington who was in the “cabin” next to me.  We got to chatting, she explained that she was a trained sports massage therapist … and gave my hips a once over!!  They feel much better since then, but I have to keep them moving since due to the degenerative nature of the arthritis, my range of motion in the hips decreases.  I recall, being the last of the children born in our family, that I had a calcium deficiency when I was born … my bones didn’t get hard as they should have in an infant.  I took calcium tablets administered by “Mother Mary” for the first few years of my infancy!  I have been speculating that this, too, might be a cause of the “degenerative osteoarthritis” that the orthopedic surgeon says I have!  I have a good friend from college, Doc Hepler out of PA, who suggested that I take caution before getting a replacement(s).  Then there is this chiropractor from Ft. Lauderdale that I used to meet up with at LA Fitness to chat about “hip replacements”, and he swears by them!  What to do … when the time comes?!  Meanwhile, I stretch and breathe … deeply.

At this time I wanted to give a shout out to a couple of special people who got me terribly interested in yoga and “knowing myself” as well as my body!  Lydia Richardson was one of, if not, my first pilates yoga teacher!  We worked out in Pembroke Pines, FL at the “24 Hour Fitness Shaq”.  Lydia is now an “Orange Theory” specialist, and in my opinion, is a symbol of excellence as she continues to teach spin and yoga at various locations in South Florida.  Thanks, Lydia for your leadership and guidance.  Also, a gent, Jean Marc Rousseau from France, was another yoga instructor whom I give a lot of credit for instilling “the stillness of mind” that I needed when I was an early practitioner.  He continues to teach yoga and grow his beautiful family.  Also, if you are in the area of Portugal in early May … or in Cahuita’s Playa Negra, Amber Jager from Holland of “Alma Yoga” and Christen Scott and her husband, Preston, with the “Power Yoga Tribe” out of Juno Beach, FL, respectively, are holding “retreats” that may be very well worth your time, energy and research … plus money!  Visit: to learn more about Amber Jager’s retreat in Portugal.  As well, if interested (or if you know someone) in a retreat in Costa Rica, visit: to find out more about Christen and Preston’s yoga retreat there!

“Don’t forget to breathe!”


John I. Cook, Director

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