For almost eight years, I’ve been living in the States, but not until this spring did I develop symptoms of allergies. It was a running nose in March and last week a clogged nose joined. I have problems breathing freely and my mouth hates to multi-task.
The whole situation becomes more absurd when I go climbing, “Are you breathing?” says the climbing instructor, and when I try to cross an eddy line in my kayak, “Don’t hold your breath!” say my experienced boating friends. I so much want to perform unobstructed inhales and exhales, yet I still hold my breath when I undergo abrupt movements or when I experience tough transitions.
Isn’t breathing the most natural thing? Not necessarily. Chinese Kung-fu masters ask their pupils to learn how to breathe before they learn any strokes, and the same thing happens in Yoga philosophy. In many aerobic sports – running, swimming, etc – people ask how they should breathe all the time, because breathing helps to develop rhythm and rhythm brings out endurance.
However, I had never imagined that one day I would have to constantly remind myself to breathe. It is almost as difficult as telling myself to relax when I just jump in a new sport. Both climbing and kayaking require balance, smoothness and elegance. I have heard so many climbers and kayakers use “grace” to refer to their beloved sports, and I will not hesitate to use that word if I know I can breathe better than naturally.
I always believe that a sport looks beautiful if you do it right. While my symptoms trigger my desire to breathe, I’ll just have to step further to keep working on that. I’ll keep monitoring myself as long as it needs to: If I hold my breath, I interrupt the continuity of a sport and disturb its momentum. And the end result? The beauty of the sport will be suffocated.