My daughter Eva has Rett Syndrome; a rare neurological disorder that in her case, left her locked in a body that would not work for her from the age of 9 months. I went from being a photographer to being a mum to being a rudimentary therapist, advocate and ranter. This blog is here to share ideas, thoughts, therapies, recipes, advice and sometimes have a rant. or two.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Learning to breathe...

It's been a big month.  Actually it's been a big year... maybe year and a half.  I look back and see I've made very few posts since Eva started school and it's hardly surprising.  The concept of time has taken on new meaning with all the to-ing and fro-ing to school, appointments and therapies.  But this last month has been especially crazy.  I went to China for a job, my dad ended up in Intensive Care after a bit of a mishap during a routine sinus surgery, my very dear Grandmother died, my sister and her family arrived from Scotland for a holiday and my mum went to Emergency for trouble breathing.  And we moved house.  Again.  5 houses in 5 years..this time with incredibly stressful altercations with the landlord.  Certainly the most unpleasant house move ever. There must be some kind of record for that.  Through it all Eva has remained quite healthy, unstressed and actually quite happy.  And I have coped much better than I thought I would.  I can only attribute it to both her and I finally practicing what I preach which lately has been all about breathing.

Back when Eva was having crying episodes (rett and gut related) I used to use a yogic breath called Ujjayi breath to help calm her.  Sounding like the ocean (or Darth Vader) with a slight throat constriction, it worked a treat and the brilliant side effect was that it would calm me too.  This year I've been studying yoga formally to get qualifications as a yoga teacher and have learnt about all the physical and mental benefits of this breath along with many others. I started teaching Eva some of the breathing techniques to help her with anxiety and found it had the most amazing results.  There were times she would disengage from conversation, get wide-eyed, starey and look quite scared and anxious and end up having jerky kind of Rett-shakes.  When I started talking her through it : "breathe nice and slowly, breathe through your nose, breathe calmly and quietly, slow it down, in through your nose and out through your nose, you're in control" she stopped having the shakes and would just come back to her normal self.  It has worked so often and so well that now if we see her starting to look anxious we just cue her to take control of her breath and that seems to work as a reminder.

So when all the hullabaloo of the last month surfaced I took my own advice and breathed slowly and calmly, slowed my breath down and took control of it.  And the amazing thing is that it created stillness in my self that left me feeling ok despite the chaos that raged around me. Ujjayi breath is known as the breath that soothes the soul, calms the mind and nervous system and brings the chatter of the mind into balance. It's certainly done that in the last month.


  1. Hi Emma, I've just now happened upon your blog and wanted to say what a pleasure it is to read - lovely pics too! You write beautifully and it's lovely to learn more about Eva (I witnessed you talking Eva through her breathing on Monday and was so impressed by your calm connection with each other). I hope you don't mind my intrusion... See you round abouts. xo Liz

  2. Thank you Liz, lovely to know someone reads it once in a while! x Emma

  3. Yes, it's certainly been a dramatic month for you and you've coped so well. I've noticed you telling Eva to breathe slowly and calmly and she has responded, and got through it, so obviously it's working for her. It's all about finding a pathway that works, so well done in teaching her this calming breath. Reminds me of when I taught you the relaxing breath when you were three, and had asthma. And when I can breathe well again, I'll learn the ujjayi breath myself. Love always, Mum

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