Dive into the still space within
I left you at the end of my last blog breathing space into your spine and abdomen, which I hope you enjoyed. Now, let’s
Practicing yoga outside
take that a little deeper … can you find the space between each part of the breath? A natural pause, a lengthening, rather than a conscious holding of the breath, which would cause constriction. It is in these spaces between the breath and between thoughts where the real magic of yoga takes place.
Deeper yoga practices use breath retentions and breathing ratios, and we certainly incorporate them in our meditation practices (do check out the health considerations of breath ratios as they are not for everyone – ask your tutor if you need guidance). It is in the spaciousness that we can connect with our inner most self, an important component of our yoga practice if we want something more than a stretch.
Last time we focussed on creating space during our asana practice, using the breath particularly to help us. We can take that a bit further now. In class, after most of our postures and sequences, I ask you to rest. Sometimes we just stand in the Mountain pose for a few breaths, usually I ask you to allow your Self to settle. Other times we might lie down in crocodile or corpse pose, focussing on letting go of tension, totally supported by the earth, with awareness on the abdomen. Or, I might be asking you to expand areas of the body, relaxing on the exhalation. During these times of stillness, we allow the body to settle, relax and process the yoga. Physically, this is a time to release the muscles that have been working, becoming aware of space increasing in the areas the posture was focussed on.
As the breath settles, we can relax. Usually the mind will follow shortly after. The ancient yogis teach us that the breath is the bridge between mind, body and emotions. Here we have the space to let go of thougths and emotions we no longer need or want. We have the space to decide what no longer serves us. In this space we can be still. Not doing. Not thinking. Eventually a thought will come up, that is the nature of the mind, it thinks and we’d be stuck without it, but maybe now, from the space the thought might be a positive one or perhaps offering a solution to a problem, hopefully it will be a more creative, joyful, calm or uplifting thought. Yoga helps us have more control over the mind. We become the master, not the servant of the mind. This takes time and practice, be gentle with yourself.
The more we still the mind with quiet time and space, the more likely it is that we can let go of busy thoughts, thoughts that just come up out of habit, thoughts that are rooted in egotistical melodramas. It also gives us the space to deal with thoughts that do need attention and perhaps some processing. We are now offered the opportunity to be more discerning about what thoughts we choose to engage with.
I really am just scratching the surface of the subject of spaciousness, and I hope I have given you some sense of how important space is to our yoga practice. You might be able to think about how you can expand space in your every day life. When you are feeling constricted, suffocating under an ever increasing to do list with a non stop procession of thoughts, or you have a problem to solve but can’t see the wood for the trees…Stop. Breathe. Create space. Ask yourself, where am I feeling the constriction? This could be in any layer of your being, in any part of your body. Feel it, breathe into it, expand, feel the spaciousness increase, and if possible allow your Self to “dive into” that space, that calm, peaceful place within. A place that forever remains unaltered by the busy-ness of the world around. Ix