Becoming a Space Cadet
By: Kristie Lindblom, ERYT
One of the most profound and life changing effects of a regular yoga practice is that you actually create space. What does that mean? It sounds so simple, but for many, it is not that easy of a concept to grasp.
The process of creating space starts with the intention of practice. When we take the time out of our day to go to class or roll out our mat at home, we begin to create a space in our lives for our Self. We open up to going within and shaking hands with that place inside of us in which our creativity, our inspiration, our healing. The process of turning away from outward sensations begins and we touch on a place that is always there and yet often forgotten.
Once we are actually on the mat, the practice creates space in the body. Perhaps a better phrase, is to say that we create space in the ‘bodies.’ The philosophy of yoga teaches us that, really, our being is a connection of several ‘bodies’– what the ancients called “Koshas.” Put simply, the koshas are coverings of the Self. They are how the Self experiences the world.
It is the practice of Asana (the physical postures of Yoga), that helps us to open up windows in the physical body. As we create strength and stretch through muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments, we begin to understand that we are more than just these things. Through purifying this body we open ourselves to the understanding that our physical being is only a way to sense and experience this world. It does not define us.
One might notice the keen awareness that a yoga instructor asks their students to place on the breath. The purpose of this is to bring the student in to the Pranamaya Kosha– the body of the life force that animates our physical bodies – one manifestation of which is the breath. In practice, we learn to manage and manipulate the breath in different ways, ultimately elongating the breath and creating space between each inhalation and each exhalation. By slowing the breathing, and allowing pause in that body, we not only experience the physical benefits (slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, increase in digestive processes, better lung function, etc.), we experience a sense of anything extra– any excess being washed away on each exhalation.
This opening and awareness in the breath is one of the tools we use in meditation to come in to the the body of the mind, the thoughts which drift through us giving a sense of “I“ or “Me“. During meditation, we allow ourselves to create space between the thoughts. Gradually, the distance from one thought to another opens and we recognize the interconnections around us.
The creations of these doors opening deeper in to ourselves and to that which surrounds us bring us further to our deeper wisdom and intuition and innermost bliss. We begin to feel a sense of connection from body to body, to ourselves and to our surroundings. This union is Yoga, and it can only take place when we make space for it. We find that space in the opening of the body, the breath, and between the thoughts in meditation. Perhaps, a more honest way of expressing my original statement would be this: Yoga pokes holes and makes space in the koshas that allow us to experience the Self. The wise and loving yogi Sri K. Pattabhi Jois reminded us, “Do your practice and all is coming.” I invite you to take a yoga class today and welcome these spaces of Self knowledge.
Kristie Lindblom, ERYT is a yoga instructor that specializes in therapeutic and restorative practice. She is a Stress Management Specialist at the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease. www.searchingforsattva.blogspot.com
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