How often have you heard me say "shoulder blades down and forward onto your back ribs"? Try it now. How does it feel?
Now reach up through the crown of your head. Did you grow taller? How does your back feel? More space?
In some poses that require a degree of balance and strength, such as Warrior I, we can sometimes focus so much on reaching up with our hands, for example, that our neck gets crowded by our hunched shoulders. And possibly our clenched teeth. That doesn't feel good, does it?
Now think of Warrior II. I remind you to remember the concept of sthira sukham asanam . . . steadiness with ease. We are strong and steady in our legs, torso, and arms. As we reach out our hands, we can find some ease, allowing us to stay in the pose, by simply rolling our shoulder blades down and forward onto our back ribs. It's that easy.
IN OUR MINDS. . . we can create space by keeping our minds open. Notice what is happening in your body as you practice, don't judge it, just take note. One week you will feel 'on point' and able to really extend yourself, then the next week everything feels just too hard. That's perfectly normal. By keeping our minds open to these changes or differences, we can find a level of acceptance which allows us to really enjoy what is happening. The tough times help us appreciate the times when we feel we are 'nailing' it.
IN OUR BODIES . . . the ultimate way of creating space in our body is to use our breath, creating space in our lungs, our bodies, our spine. This week I actually heard you all breathing . . . and it was wonderful. Linking your breath to your movement will completely change your practice for the better. For me, it makes my practice feel like more of a dance. For you, it might be something different. Whatever the feeling you have, if you focus on your breath you will be able to 'still' your mind, giving it the space to just 'be'.
OFF THE MAT . . . imagine standing in a queue at the bank. You're shifting your weight from one foot to the other as you try to keep your lower back from aching. Why not ground your feet, send your shoulder blades down to your back pocket, then reach up through the crown of your head? Yoga in a bank queue. You're doing it! If it's a really long queue, why not clasp your hands behind your back and send your hands downwards. All of a sudden your collarbones have broadened. You can do similar whilst driving your car. Although I recommend keeping your hands on the steering wheel rather than clasping them behind you in that case.
IN OUR LIVES . . . create some space in your life for YOU. My husband has never resented the time I take practicing yoga, because whenever I walk in the door after practice, I have a spring in my step and I am calm and happy. I'm a lighter, brighter version of myself. I have given myself some space to do what feels right for me and he reaps the benefits too. Happy wife . . . happy life.
We're half way through our workshop now Yogis. We're all flowing now, and in our own special way, so let's keep the momentum going.
Practice if you can, but if you can't, then at least remember to breathe.
Really breathe. Create your own space.
p.s. Note for next week . . . we will lay our mats out in a traditional 'stacked' class style. It will challenge your listening skills, and it will challenge my teaching skills. Win:Win.
p.p.s. Let's try full Side Plank next week . . .