Is This an Emergency?

butterfly pose, butterfly, yogaI wake up groggy this morning because of the allergy meds my doctor prescribed. I’m not sure which is worse, though: trying to sleep with a stuffed-up nose, or feeling a bit nauseous all night from the meds.

So I’m elated when the clock finally turns to 5 a.m. I jump out of bed, remembering “I have yoga today!”

The night-time anti-congestion pill has worn off by the time I’m sipping my first cup of tea, though, and I begin to worry.

Will I be able to practice yoga while sneezing every 10 minutes and with nostrils that seem to be filled with five-pound bags of cotton?

I shrug off my concern. I need to stretch and meditate and pose myself into joy.

The room is quiet and dark. The yoga teacher, a woman in her early 40s with a matter-of fact voice and the ability to pose in the down-dog position for long minutes, turns up her IPod to the slow rhythmic chanting of gentle monks.

I feel myself relax.

“Breathe in for a count of six,” the teacher says.

I try, but my nose makes the sound of a garbage truck rumbling down a pot-holed street.

“And exhale for six.”

Now I sound like six garbage, relax, allergies

“Now we’ll move into the butterfly pose, yin style, with feet together, knees out, head down, for a long stretch.”

I almost faint. With my head down, I can’t get any air through my nostrils. I have to open my mouth. Is that okay? We’re supposed to breathe in and out through our nose.

Then the teacher says something brilliant:

“This stretch is challenging. But discomfort is not an emergency.”

Oh. That’s true.

I open my mouth and breathe in six. Let go six. Oxygen relaxes my muscles into a more open pose.

Ouch. But it’s a slow “hmmm, this is working,” ouch.

I start a new mantra:. Just peace out, whatever way I breathe.

And in my peaced-out state of mind, I receive a soul-full revelation.

In all things in which we challenge ourselves, we should breathe in the mantra: DISCOMFORT IS NOT AN EMERGENCY!


98 thoughts on “Is This an Emergency?

  1. This seems a particularly bad spring allergy season. Everyone seems to be affected. I hope you feel better soon!
    (I remember one daughter telling me about a college yoga class where someone farted, and then they couldn’t stop laughing.) 🙂

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  2. “Discomfort is not an emergency.” What words of peace-filled wisdom this morning! And to realize that, whatever the circumstances, we can still keep breathing in and out. (Until we can’t, and then it won’t matter any more, right?)

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  3. From one allergy sufferer to another, I feel your pain … and oxygen deprivation. I too don’t know what’s worse … the feeling like I’m drowning in my snottiness or the fuzzy-headedness caused by the antihistamines with the vague nausea they create.

    Yoga is very forgiving. Sometimes you just have to modify to accommodate some injury or limitation at the moment. It’s still going to be good.

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  4. That is such a great philosophy, discomfort is not an emergency! Doing Yin Yoga was the best thing I ever did for myself. The instructor always started by saying, there will be weird noises coming from some of us, don’t let it bother you. xo

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  5. Habbing a stuffed up nose makes it hard to breathe . . . but breathe we must! Glad that you are able to bounce out of bed at 5 am. THAT is something I haven’t accomplished in quite some time. 😆

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  6. Oh that is an excellent mantra for life isn’t it? Having worked in emergency rooms some of my nursing career it might be a good sign on the door there as well. I also love the line get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It often is used in exercise realms. Hope your breathing is now clear but yes just breathe however you can. 🙂

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  7. And a metaphor for life to boot. It’s safe to say you’ve given us all a new mantra for at least the next 24 hours, Pam.

    I always get this awful feeling of claustrophobia when I’m stuffed up and have a cold. It hits me worse at night when I awake in a fright. I’ll try to remember “discomfort is not an emergency” when that happens next time! – Marty

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    • So glad you shared the fact that you get that claustrophobic feeling when having congestion. I do too, but I thought I was the only one. Yes in the middle of the night when we’re trying to breathe through our nose and it doesn’t happen, the body wakes us up in a fright. May we breath ourselves out of the emergency and may the discomfort leave as well .. 🥴

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  8. You always manage to work in a bit of humor, no matter the seriousness of your topic—I love that! Yoga is a hilarious (think downward dog) discipline, requiring superhuman flexibility, and I commend you for sticking with it! I laughed and cried throughout my ‘yoga period’, eventually giving it up in favor of going to the gym.

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    • I’ve heard there are even “laughing yoga” classes. Perhaps you should look for a class like that! 😁 I have been practicing yoga for so many years that the stretches come naturally and I enjoy them very much-except when I can’t breathe !


  9. Your post is primo and so are the comments, which included farting during yoga. Ha ha!
    Sometimes I miss my Pilates class if I feel congested. (Allergens abound in Florida from January to late May and beyond.)

    Yoga poses release toxins, so drink plenty of water. You probably won’t fart, but you’ll flush out the poisons, or so I believe. Another bit of advice from nurse Marian: Take allergy meds with some food to reduce nausea.

    Writers know, of course, that some discomfort is not an emergency. Thanks for your wisdom for the day, Pamela! I’ll chew on it — after I blow my nose!

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    • Thank you so much for the advice, nurse Marian! I am taking it to heart and drinking my fluids and eating something before I take my meds. I think it does help a bit. I loved what you said at the end though; writing can definitely be a discomfort, and it definitely is not an emergency even though we may have tears flowing.


    • You are right. This mantra is perfect for our daily walks in which we wonder why we’re doing it. We’re doing it so that we don’t have any emergencies in our future! 😎


  10. I can’t believe you went to yoga in that state. And, you sure are an early riser. Well done on the yoga moves and the breathing. I was feeling sick for a week or so during our house sit and skipped my exercises those days.

    Yep, discomfort is not an emergency. If it were, I’d have to call 911 almost every day at some point. 🙂 Being uncomfortable makes you realize you’re alive. It’s also part of yoga. For me, anyway.

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    • I have “made” myself go to my dance and yoga classes despite my discomfort. Somehow, I feel human again during those hour-long sessions. 🙂 As you say, moving and breathing and even discomfort helps us realize “yay, another day on this Earth!” ❤

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  11. Hi Pam, I find yoga can be a challenge when I am not feeling well. Stuffed up, nausea, bloating…..I guess it depends on the symptoms. I like your morning wake-up “Pose myself into joy” (I made a note of your words). Your new mantra speaks volumes. Namaste:) Erica

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    • My yoga teacher tells all of us in the class that just the yogic breathing alone can help us feel better and to cope with the discomfort. I think she’s right, unless I can’t breathe well enough to …. breathe! 🙂
      Hope you’re posing joyfully today, Erica. xo

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  12. Always a good read here, Pam. I trust your head cold has moved up and out by now, rather than down and dirty.

    Yoga has such a wealth of good lessons for us. My all time favorite, learned years ago now (I even refer to it in my memoir) was about finding our point of resistance, you know that place where it starts to hurt and we want to back off; instead, play with it. Back and forth, in and out. Breathing all the while. How easy it is to forget to breathe.

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    • Whoever would’ve guessed that the breathing is the hardest part… And the most important?
      Thanks for still checking in here and reading my blog post, Janet. No, I’ve now been diagnosed with a sinus infection. 🥴 Breathing should help.


  13. Pam…I just have to say that every morning when I wake up something hurts!! Discomfort is a way of life after a certain age!
    p.s. I had to find your blog in order to read this.

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  14. Discomfort is not an emergency…I’ll have to tell that one to my son when we are next together for meditation (this Saturday)…I wonder if he will frown or smile at me. I love that quote and I will use it for myself going forward. I think as long as we are up, verticle each day we are doing good.

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