I recently realized how much yoga practice is a matter of space. On the mat, we create space in our body by breathing—we create space in the chest, the back, the belly, the ribs. And as we breathe into different parts of the body, we start visualizing our body as a vessel for our breath.
Also, literally, asanas do create space. By lengthening body parts, we expand in a different way than when we are sitting at a desk, or traveling, because on the mat, we use the area around us to expand in our postures.
Leave space for change
For each asana, we have to come into the posture with enough flexibility for the posture to exist. Every day, every practice is different, and we have to let the posture have its latitude to change and vary from time to time.
Maybe yesterday your body was able to do a full Wheel, but today it only wants to settle in Bridge. We come with certain expectations, but often, the pose will not match them. This is why we have to come into the asana with enough room to let it be. This space allows our asanas to evolve, progress, and advance.
Space to evolve
We also have to create room in our self practice to listen to ourselves. Even with a planned practice where each asana is followed by another, we have to listen to how we feel at that moment. Allowing our plans to change when practicing or teaching is very important, and this flexibility comes from an open mind, and a capacity to keep room for change and creativity.
Space in the mind
We create space in our minds during meditation, or breath work in the asanas, by quieting our minds and freeing a lot of the thoughts and worries that we keep there. Eighty percent of the thoughts we have every day are thoughts we may have already had the day before, and that we will have again the following day, so imagine how much space we gain by shutting them out even for just a couple minutes!
Creating space in our lives for Yoga
To be a yogi(ni), one must consciously create space in his/her life for yoga. We have to give time out of our day for yoga practice, as well as time in our lives to be open to others. If our everyday life is filled with chores, work, and running all around in an autopilot mode, we leave no room for anything else.
By bringing mindfulness in our lives, we create space to think, to practice yamas, to care for others, to feel connected to ourselves and to the universe. This space that we free up in our minds also enables us to listen to ourselves and to others. It gives room for wisdom.
By training ourselves to create this space in our yoga practice, we learn to let go of expectations, and we learn flexibility. Once we get used to being open and having room to allow anything to happen, we start to welcome the unknown. This is why I love yoga and its ability to create space in our lives; it gives us the freedom to change, grow, expand, and evolve to become the best version of ourselves.