The Silent Spring: The breath

I practice yoga every day but I’ve never thought so much about breathing as when I’m wearing a mask. In yoga, the breath comes first. In life, the breath comes first. With the virus, the breath comes first – or, sadly, last.

One of my most favorite activities is walking but I can’t take a brisk walk wearing a mask. I have to slow down. The mask makes me take short breaths and every five or six I try to take a deeper one, even if it means stopping. Yesterday, for the first time, I sneezed while wearing it, opening my mouth wide and inhaling violently, making my mask curl inside my lips. The exhalation pushed the mask back out. It was the oddest sensation I’ve had in a long time.

In Hebrew, ruach means breath, wind or spirit and can refer to a person’s emotional state of being or their soul or spirit. When I’m wearing a mask, I’m conscious of every breath. Does that mean I am more aware of my soul? I think it does. Every morning, when I wake, my first thought is that I feel OK, my chest does not hurt, my breathing is not labored. I am grateful for one more day without the virus.

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