Book Review: Rating: A
Yogis, relaxation experts and Buddhists all extol the virtues of breath for stress relief and claim breath work unlocks health-compromising stress patterns. I’ve never been able to experience the power of breath, as they say. I take a few breaths and then do feel calmer, sometimes even more centered but to make a daily habit of breathing deeply never appealed to me. Quite frequently, I forget to take the time to breathe deeply.
The 2009 book, “Breathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman” by yoga teacher Katrina Repka and yogi master Alan Finger finally opened my eyes (and my lungs) to the potential of breathing techniques.
Repka is an early thirty-something woman who leaves her marketing career and hometown of Calgary in Canada to test her merits in New York City. Her friends and family, baffled by her decision, wondered, “How can she uproot herself like that at the time when she should be settling down and starting a family? How could she give up a good job, promising romantic prospects, and more importantly, us?” Though her motivations were not understood by her family, Repka had been drawn to New York City since childhood. One day, with all her courage and little support, she set off for the big city.
“My life in Manhattan was supposed to be the complete opposite of my life in Calgary, Alberta. I would be thinner, smarter, happier, hipper. My work would be glamorous, my days and nights filled with excitement and fascinating new friends. I wasn’t going to settle for the comfortable routine that had threatened to stifle me in my old hometown.” *
Once she settled in New York and adjusted to the pace and attractions she discovered that she brought her old Calgary self all the way to New York. Her new, glamorous New York self wasn’t as easy to keep on, no matter how many Prada shoes she purchased. Old insecurities and reservations bombarded her, screeching more loudly than the big city’s noise. Her old self doubt and restlessness was getting in the way. She wrestled with old questions about who she really was and what she wanted her life to be like. The answers, just as they did in Calgary, evaded her.
Her frustration continued until she met yogi master Alan Finger. Finger ran a yoga studio in NYC. The studio had many yoga classes and Finger also offered private breathing consultations, that in Repka’s case, closely resembled psycho-therapy sessions.
The book, Breathing Space, is broken into chapters that focus on different areas of self growth so the reader can quickly go to a chapter of relevance for themselves. Some of the titles are:
Focus: The power of breath to help you see yourself clearly;
Criticism: The power of breath to erased self-destructive tendencies;
Faith: The power of breath to overcome hesitation and connect with your truth.
As a woman in my thirties, I found Repka’s journey especially relevant to my own journey and quest for a fulfilling life. Repka is self effacing and willing to share embarrassing moments and mistakes with her readers but don’t be put off by her age. Her explorations, struggles, and victories are common among all women struggling with their identity and for those demanding an enriched life.
* Breathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman by Katrina Repka and Alan Finger p. 2