This week in classes and in my life I have been exploring the concept of space. As we move into December we often find our schedules jam packed with obligations, work commitments and social events that it can feel like we have little to no space to ourselves. And whilst the merriment can certainly be fun, it often results in us feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or maybe even ill. During this time skipping practices of self care like meditation, yoga or journalling seems like the best thing to do. But what I have come to learn, is Yoga creates space.
We can think of our Yoga practice as a way to explore the concept of space. As we physically move around the mat our body takes up different space as we expand into the various shapes. The asanas themselves create space by lengthening, stretching and opening the body. We also create space in our body through deep, conscious breathing. With each inhale we expand into the chest, the back of the body, the side of the body, the ribs and belly. And, perhaps most subtly of all, we create space in the mind as we connect with the asana, with the breath. This headspace relieves us from the busyness of life, the to-do lists and narratives that tell us who we are.
But we don’t have to roll out the yoga mat to recreate that space in our everyday life. We can find space in each moment simply by connecting to the breath. Read through the instructions below for the meditation practice that I have been sharing in my classes this week.
- Come to a comfortable seated position: Legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor. Spine erect, each vertebrae stacking one on top of the other. Crown of the head reaching to the sky. Hands resting comfortable where they fall.
- Check in with how you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally. Remember, anything is welcome in this space.
- Take a few moments to settle in, bringing about a sense of relaxation into the body starting from the crown of the head all the way down to the toes.
- Guide your awareness to the breath. Without changing or controlling the breath in anyway, observe how the breath moves through your body. Notice the rhythm and tempo of each breath.
- In time, without forcing, you may find that the breath begins to lengthen.
- You may also find that your mind wanders, distracted by sounds around you, sensations in the body or thoughts about the past or the future. Know that this is okay, normal, part of the practice. Each time you notice that the mind has wandered, gently, but firmly, guide your awareness back to the breath.
- As you continue to watch the breath in this way, perhaps you become aware of the little pauses, the gaps between the inhale and exhale, between the exhale and inhale. Allow your awareness to rest in those moments.
- Don’t hold the breath or force the gap in anyway, just notice the natural arising of this space.
- In time, you may find that this space begins lengthen and your awareness can rest a moment longer in that space.
- Continue observing the breath and the gap in this way for a set amount of time (5 minute beginners)
- Gently begin to expand your awareness back into the entire body, notice the space created and if you feel any different now than when you first started.
- Open your senses to the feeling of the chair below you, the clothes on your body, any smells or tastes and the sounds around you.
- Take a few deep breaths, and open the eyes when you are ready.
Although this is a formal seated meditation, the more often you connect with this space the easier it is to keep with you or find during your busy day. So that when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, upset, you can simply take a few moments to find the pause in your breath and create the space that you need.
Next week, 10 more ways to create space in the lead up to Christmas!
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