In general, I am a pretty private person.

I keep things close to the chest and, even when I share, I proceed with caution.

I connect easily with others and have been trusted with many confidences.

But, it is only on the very rare occasion that I share mine.

The hitch for me is being okay with the natural flow of people who come in and out of my life.

If I had my way, I would keep most everyone who passed through, especially those with any of my confidences in tow.

I was once in a class where the yoga instructor told us that connections take practice, and she encouraged us to use the practice to connect first with ourselves and then with others.

This is called a practice, the instructor said. If you already knew everything, there would be nothing to practice.

In yoga, breathing is the key to connecting.

Breathing takes us out of our minds and into our bodies; out of the stories in our heads and into the present.

The breath helps the thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow drop away until we are left where we belong, in the moment where we are supposed to be.

We breathed through three vinyasas. A vinyasa is a set of three poses, and one travels through them on the breath. We inhale to a plank with the body parallel to the mat and then exhale to a low push up, or Chaturanga. We inhale our hearts up and through, Upward Facing Dog; then exhale back and through, Downward Facing Dog.

The instructor reminded us that, although our practice is personal, not to forget the others in the room.

She said, Once you connect with yourself, you can connect to others.

I could hear all of us breathing on the same beat, the class synchronized on the inhales and exhales.

Breathing is an important part of yoga, and I guess that is why there is an intense connection between the physical practice and the life lessons found therein.

In that particular class, we had practiced inches from our neighbors, and the instructor encouraged us to use our breath to connect to and inspire others in the room.

She wanted us to see our fellow practitioners as pillars, saying that we live and practice in and among others and that connecting to ourselves gives us the trust to connect to others.

I am usually oblivious to those around me during my practice, but it was true that I could not help but benefit from the energy exchange of those so close by.

So, in return, I breathed.

It is challenging to be truly connected with myself, to breathe into my life’s moments both in and out of class.

For a long time, I let myself hunker down, resisting opportunities to breathe. It was a safe place to be, but there was no flow, and it did not get me anywhere but from one day to the next.

Maybe it is telling that often the instructions to inhale or exhale sometimes find me holding my breath while holding a pose!

Breathing creates space in the body and in the mind. As I inhaled and exhaled, I thought back to some recent advice where I was told to offer myself some space for life’s missed or lost connections. This space is supposed to provide a cushion of care and protect from self-blame.

On another day, I asked my instructor what else there was to learn. I had advanced through many of the poses, and I was looking for the next challenge. My practice was feeling stagnant.

For you, he said, it would be the breath.