Posted by Editor: FDBobko
MAY 2, 2024
Arahcha Casal
Breath: The Wonders and Benefits, Do's and Don'ts
Article by Stacy Trevenon
Pictures by EP
Arancha Casal’s program on “Breath: The Wonders and Benefits, Dos and Don’ts.”

Arancha said that instead of talking about yoga (her original topic), she would focus on facts about breath. The ancients knew about the power of breath, for health, well-being and vitality. Breath is life, but we take it for granted. “Breath is the secret of well-being,” revered by the ancients, she said; “Wealth more useful than the science of breath has never been heard of.” 

Why is breath so important? In the West, we’re moving toward a holistic model of health as a mind-body system, with breath in the middle. Breath is the bridge that connects the body and the mind. Your thoughts are reflected in your breath. Whether inhalation or exhalation, the speed or depth of the breath, whether one nostril or the other is more open, will affect your body and your heart, brain, digestive or hormonal systems. Anything that happens in the body is reflected in the breath. 

The magic of the breath is that you can take conscious control of it, take breaths faster or shower, through one nostril or the other, which is why it’s so powerful. It’s a tool that allows you to consciously control both mind and body. The ancients, sages and yogis all know this, though in the West, we don’t. Breath affects everything that’s going on in your body, so pay attention to it like a diagnostic tool. It affects emotions (when you’re angry, it’s hard to exhale); mental life, thoughts, clarity, ability to reason or be creative. And it affects your level of consciousness; breath mirrors what’s going on inside you, and it’s a tool you can use to regulate bodily functions, thoughts, emotions and consciousness. Everyday expressions show its importance: “it took my breath away, “taking a breather,”  “I’m holding my breath,” “huffing and puffing,”  etc. Even movie subtitles indicate emotion with “sighing” or “gasping.”

So breath, even though we don’t realize it, expresses and evokes emotional life and sensations. There’s a correlation between breath and heart rate, and breath affects hormones, menstruation, fertility, the digestive system etc. Breathing improperly hinders digestion and affects the nervous system and the “fight or flight” response. Breath and emotions are twins. Emotion is reflected in the breath; as when anger cuts your breath short. Besides emotion, breath indicates disease, stress or trauma.  But besides regulating  emotions, breath is good for needed relaxation: when we relax, our bodies release toxins, so if we don’t relax, we can’t release toxins. With serenity or peace of mind, breath is No.1 as an opposite of stress. Yogis become imperturbable; no matter what happens outside, they maintain peaceful calm (that’s my word; the tape was unclear.) 

Why? Because breath is the connection between body and mind.

What Arancha said she wanted to do with her talk is change our mindset about breath. Instead of thinking of it as something done for you, see it as a tool you can use for your well-being. The scriptures of the Hindus say that God has given us two doctors: inhalation and exhalation; breath can be seen as emptying (exhaling) and refilling (inhaling.) This is the basic movement of breath, flow of energy; exhaling is a release of toxins and inhaling is a refilling with vital energy. 

What are the organs of breath? The lungs and the diaphragm. Some surprising facts about the nose: first, nostrils are not created equal. Each nostril carries a different quality of energy: the right nostril, called the solar flow, is warmer, a more active, more energetic, more rational, type of energy. The left nostril is the lunar nostril, more conducive to relaxation, contemplation, meditation. A normal human needs both of them, like night and day; two polarities, pluralism. The trick to proper living is to maintain a harmonious balance between the two. So we have two nostrils, with nerve connections to the brain; the right side activates activity, digestion, release of energy, verbal energy and an active mind; the left or night side, the perisympathetic system, calming and cooling effect, mental work. Think of the right and left nostril as the gas pedal and the brake. Arancha showed illustrations, like a sidewise illustration of breathing; an up and down/sideways and intertwining motion reminiscent of the energies used in sacred medicine – like images of a rod and snakes -- ancient symbols denoting energy flows, up and down and sideways through the central system. 

Warren asked, if he ever needed more energy, how about blocking the left nostril and letting the right one get more sun? Arancha said yes, you want to open up the right. With illustrations, she talked about the balance of up and down and sideways, the right and left and central channels.


As President Liz was unable to attend, Past President Dianne Bobko facilitated the meeting.   To start Dianne got everyone on their feet to rousingly sing three verses of “America the Beautiful.” as they followed along with a YouTube video showing beautiful scenes from all over the U.S.

Pledge of Allegiance  Joe led the Pledge of Allegiance,

Inspirational Thought  Asked for words of wisdom, Rose, who was our Greeter for this meeting, recognized the turbulent times we are in now with the quote: “Smooth seas do not make good sailors.”

Updates  Dianne read a note from Mitone and her colleague Larry, acknowledging our donation to Shelter Box USA. Dianne mentioned that when she was Club President along with  fellow women presidents from the Pacifica and Millbrae clubs it was decided to donate to buy a Shelter Box and divide donations. Now, along with a fourth club, all are donating to the Shelter Box organization based on their own budgets, as part of the annual multi-club meeting.

She also brought up the District Conference last weekend at the Hayes Hotel in San Jose, attended by Stacy, Heather, Ed, and Paul. Paul noted that it was a good conference except for the room: “It coulda been anywhere,” he said, “I felt like it wasn’t really Rotary since there were any identifying signs or posters anywhere” but had an  “absolutely first-rate” sound system which he recommended focusing on in our district conference. Prompted by Dianne’s questions, he recalled the entryway which he said was where you saw Rotary paraphernalia. Stacy noted that while the hotel was a nice setting, we as Rotarians have gone, on service projects, to places where we have been in stark rooms, so we understand, and while it’s lovely to be in a place where Rotary is recognized and acknowledged, we know what it’s like to be in stark, empty rooms “doing Rotary stuff because we are Rotarians.”  Dianne mentioned that Joe experienced that in Mexico, and mentioned being hosted by Rotarians who were very proud of their projects such as a gardening project for autistic children.

Dianne asked us to keep Liz in our thoughts as she gets better. She and Teri had gone that morning to see former Rotary caterer Casey Sample who is in hospice, and who passed away while they were there. Charise McHugh visited Casey that morning as well, and said a prayer of goodbye with Casey’s daughter. Dianne said Liz had permission from the family to let the Club know about Casey’s passing. Irwin shared a memory of Casey riding horseback, and noted she was always smiling, even in tough times. “She had that smile. She was a good Rotarian and a nice person.” Stacy recalled Casey catering her and Doug’s engagement party and wedding, and how “she did a fantastic job” and was “pleasant, fun to be around.”  Dianne noted that Casey was a Rotarian and a wonderful supporter of this club, and called for a moment of silence. 

Dianne encouraged us to give for Coastside Gives today, and recognized Dennis, Kathy who were at the meeting.

Warren suggested making a project of cleaning our shed. At 10 a.m. Saturday, we will place stickers on the 145 dictionaries for third-graders in the HMB school district as a Rotary project, and all are invited to help.

Dianne passed around the boxes for Alzheimer’s and small donations collections, and she and Irwin called for “all hands on deck” for our upcoming big fundraiser. Nancy Wolfberg (Mrs. Irwin) has agreed to be co-chair. (“Necessary Nancy” a possible nickname, maybe??)


Rose announced that she only had one birthday for us to celebrate this month – EP's -  and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” while EP took her own picture.  Rose gave her a bouquet of pink tulips.


Susan Kealey announced that Home Rehab Day is coming up in early June and she will send an email to Save the Date and sign up; Home Rehab is meant to help seniors age in place in their own homes. Susan also mentioned looking into a joint project with the Lions Club, the library and her garden club, and suggested creative ideas for a dry run for our lobster fest and clam chowder events. Ralph asked for suggestions for other Rotary community-benefit and event ideas; Susan suggested adopting a section of the Coastside Trail with a posted Rotary sign, fixing the fence, planting native plants or adopting a section of Quarry Park. Ralph gave suggestions for a sign identifying Rotary and its part in adopting the trail, and specified a trail along the creek from the homeless encampment to the beach. Susan said she is trying to get in touch with someone in State Parks for this. Dianne mentioned the donation from Robin and our bench near the Senior Center with the plaque commemorating that. People see that, and it does make a difference. 

Mitone mentioned that more than $8,000 had been raised to benefit Shelter Box at the multi-club dinner. As more for-the-community options, she suggested shelters at bus stops along Highway 1, to encourage use of public transportation, and suggested a multiple-organization effort here in town to sponsor a bench or a shelter -- safer for riders than standing on the highway. It could be a project of our own with our name on it. Stacy seconded that, and Dianne will bring it up at the next board meeting.

News from Drew Gamut: Longtime Coastsider and new chief business official Jennifer Marsh has been hired. She has spent more than a decade and a half in the business office; an announcement is coming regarding the new superintendent of schools. Drew said he had a great time teaching at the high school, middle school and Farallone View, band twice, and kindergarten at Farallone View. He was an elementary school principal for six years, which he called “terrifying” though he liked hunching “down” to the eye level of the kids. He is “really excited” about the upcoming year with some “really amazing things going on.”

Dianne offered congratulations on the district receiving the Green RibbonAward.  (From the District website: "Cabrillo Unified School District has been recognized by the US Department of Education with a Green Ribbon District Sustainability Award. This competitive distinction was provided to just ten school districts in the USA this year, and the award now recognizes the significant efforts CUSD students, staff, families, and Coastside community members have taken over time to help establish and then achieve transformative district sustainability and environmental literacy goals here.")

Drew also mentioned that the adult school, the senior homecare aide class has been “incredible” with 15 enrolled that keep showing up. The final class is June 13; there has been contact with Directors of assisted living facilities, interviews are planned with students as the class ends for feedback and suggestions for improvement.  They need helpers for this and all are welcome.

On Tuesday, dictionaries will go to Farallone View third-graders. Warren recalled when he was in the Rotary Club of San Francisco and went back to his school for first through seventh grade Did anyone know  how long ago that was? Someone said 100 years. He said that El Granada Elementay School gets dictionaries next week and next is Hatch as the biggest school; Kevin O’Brien, who is in Maui, got volunteered to lead the dictionary handout for Hatch.

Dianne gave an update on exchange student Suzanne, whom she described as a wonderful young woman, polite and thoughtful, who went to the prom Saturday. Suzanne looked “absolutely amazing” and delighted by the reaction to pictures Dianne took of her that she sent to her parents who were in Riverside that weekend. Also two pieces of her art, (a colored pencil work and a ceramic piece that depicted a character from a Japanese animated video) were included in the “amazing” Coastal Arts League exhibit of art by CISD students from kindergarten through high school with the reception. In addition to Dianne,  Dennis and Susan, and ,John and Larkin, as well as many families and parents who were  “bursting with pride”  were there.

Happy News 

Warren gave the Crappy News that he’ll miss Thursday’s meeting since he’s attending his middle daughter’s college graduation, from Colorado Christian University in biology and chemistry (Happy News)

Marble Game  Warren sadly got a green marble  



Parting Thoughts

Dianne again reminded us that today was the big day for donating to our Foundation and other non profits we individually support through Coastside Gives.

Dianne looked up May and found some interesting information about May Day on Wikipedia, and about countries that have special observances of the day. One was France, where the lily of the valley is a special flower, given by the king to ladies of the court. Now, in France, people often give that flower to each other. 

Dianne read some pertinent quotes: “May, more than any other month in the year, wants us to feel most alive,” “The world’s favorite season is the spring; all things seem possible in May” and “May is the month of rebirth, of renewed vitality and energy. -   So with all of Arancha’s information, it all makes a difference.”

Irwin added “May’s the time to sign up.”