Yes, breathing. It’s as simple as it sounds except for when you really need to do it, except, you don’t know how…

How can something so natural, so basically necessary be so crucial in your change? Again, it’s simple. It is a basic need! An automatic motion that needs to be done correctly to replenish the core of your energy.

Let me give you some key examples:

You have a headache? Breathe!
You’re stuck and need inspiration? Breathe!
You’re mad and feel the need to curse? Breathe!
You’re dealing with physical pain? Breathe!

And the best; You need to stretch further for your yoga exercise? Breathe! Deeper!

Don't ask...
Don’t ask…

With that last one, that’s exactly how I learned that I needed to change my breathing. I still hear Olga’s voice during my physical therapy “come on breathe.” Or Harm, my other physical therapist, as he was enjoying himself way too much folding me in two “Come on, breathe deeper.”

With my muscles tightened during my rehabilitation process, their help, stretching my body, was the most painful and crucial part of my days. It was instant relief after hours of pain. It felt sooooooo good being ripped apart and bend in two. The physical therapist(s) pressing their body weight(s) on me to stretch my body parts to give me relieve by actually hurting me at my request was possibly the most fun we had together. (It’s like that first Friday beer right after work. Now multiply that, tenfold!)

Mirjam was the physical therapist that got the most fun. (She was my “steady.”) She took pleasure in folding my head between my knees and hearing me make the most “complimenting” noises, including many farts between the “oh’s” and the “ah’s.” “Keep breathing” she would say while I chuckled, bend in two released of all tension. (That I just farted on my therapist doesn’t need to be mentioned…) In that chuckle I realized how much was wrong (and no I do not mean my flatulence) I was breathing heavy from my chest, a high-pitched breathing that was doing more harm than good.

We both realized I drastically needed to change my breathing behavior to improve my physical condition. So a new struggle commenced.

“Breath through your stomach!”

Breathing through your stomach sounds was the stupidest thing I ever heard. I didn’t understand how it worked. “My lungs are in my chest, how do you want me to breathe through my stomach?” I replied more annoyed every time she would repeat herself. An appointment was made with a speech therapist (logopedist.) Hands on my stomach I learned what it meant to breath deep. Laying on my yoga mat staring at the ceiling feeling 1000 ants running through my legs (due to all the nerve damage) I lay still, breathing, feeling air fill my lungs (breathe deeper, through your balls) and emptied them completely. Controlling my breathing, I controlled my mind(set). Everyday 3 minutes prior to my core training, I exercised on my breathing and finished with deep groin stretches that I could only do if I breathed correctly . The adaptation of my body came with practically every breath that I took. I inhaled possibility and exhaled the pain and despair.

Slowly I was gaining control of my spasms, tense muscles, nerve pains and nausea attacks. Deeper stretches every day. Most days were hell but some were heaven. My muscles regained strength quicker after intensive exercises. Balance was not only found physically but mentally. As I became aware of this gained strength I started pushing my limits further, train harder, stretch deeper.

Every time my brain told me to quit, I thought about that first time I stood up from the training mats at the rehabilitation center. “Breathe, keep going, keep breathing” Femke pushed me before I managed to stand up from the ground for the first time without help other than breathing deeply and feeling every muscle in my body scream for more air. “I controlled my breathing” I thought as I stood proudly.

With the change of breathing came the much-needed physical trust in my body. Came more patience. An improved posture. I was on my way. This was the Andy 2.0 I dreamed of lying in my hospital bed. I still needed to change my sleeping, adjust my diet, improve my training. But now I had the fuel to do that. “If I can control my breathing, then I can control my whole being” I kept telling myself.

I’m still conquering my body, that will be a fight till the day I die. I keep paying most of my attention to my breathing. It’s not as automatic or natural as it may seem but with a change of breath comes a lot more than just fresh air.

See how standing up for the first time without additional help looks like: *Click Click*

Breathe Deeply

Music of choice: The Black KeysTighten Up

Sick for days in so many ways

I’m achin’ now, I’m achin’ now

It’s times like these I need relief

Please show me how,oh show me how

To get right

Yeah, it’s out of sight

When I was young and moving fast

Nothing slowed me down,

Oh slowed me down

Now I let the others pass

I’ve come around,

Oh come around

‘Cause I’ve found