Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stuff I Learned - Week #8

As a kid, I was famous for picking at scabs and digging up seeds to check on how their germination was coming along. As a result of this chronic tendency to mess with stuff, my father coined the acronym DFWI. Whenever Dad suspected that something impetuous, ill-thought or otherwise lacking consideration of the long-term was in the offing, he simply uttered the acronym DFWI to initiate a conversation.

While my father left this plane almost 10-years ago, I can still clearly hear him saying DFWI. And as a yoga teacher, I still find myself thinking about DFWI when I consider some of the practices that are commonly taught.

Breathing - at rest, during exercise and deepest (yoga pranayama)
Deep breathing is one of the canonical practices of Hatha Yoga. Depending on the style and tradition of Yoga that you practice, deep breathing is most likely at least a part of what you consider yoga. While there are likely many benefits to this deep breathing, it's not a foregone conclusion that deep breathing is necessarily beneficial everywhere else in your life.

A case in point is aerobic exercise. I know that many of you like to bike, run or otherwise enjoy activities that elevate your heart rate. The next time you do so, experiment with trying to maintain your deepest yoga breathing. I think you'll find the experience is exhausting... and your performance may be pretty underwhelming. How to breathe during activities that elevate your heart rate? As my Dad used to say, DFWI!

Why is this? Because your breathing is tied into a complex network of physiological adaptations to exercise. Or, put another way, your body is very smart. When working out, there's a chance to witness firsthand the vastness of the intelligence that permeates the human organism. Even as you sit and read this blog, your body is moment by moment measuring chemical concentrations in your blood, launching any needed immune system responses and modulating your body temperature... and you're not having to think about any of it! The body is boggling in all the processes that occur 24/7 that do not involve our direct control.

Now, it goes beyond my pay grade to identify what this intelligence may or may not be, though I do think that taking some time to bring awareness to this vastness is a very good use of time. And this is what yoga has the potential to do - to provide a theater to observe the wonder that is this human life.

This video is a fun discussion of deep breathing and running. For the time being I'll leave you with this video, and I'll pick up this discussion again next week.

Oh, and by the way, what do you think the acronym DFWI stands for?


Tajali said...

Wonderful article. DFW? I don’t know. I am stumped.

Jenny Lee said...

I notice myself switching into reverse Diaphragmatic Breathing every few minutes or so when I am really exerting myself. I I have been meaning to ask you about this Scott!

Scott Anderson said...

DFWI? Jenny correctly identified the acronym's deepest meaning!

Julbear S said...

I like "DFWI"! I've told my students that the behavior a person might use at a live football game (yelling, shouting, raising fists..) is NOT the same behavior to use a formal sit-down dinner party. Of course it works both ways. DFWI!