Finding Space / by Hope Amico

reposted from october2015

How many times a class to ask my students to “reach through the crown of the head” or “lengthen your spine”.  They are probably two of my favorite cues. They are the cues that make the most sense to me and only recently I realized why.

I was biking to class after teaching, practicing, and eating a little breakfast. Though it is a little faster to take the train, if I can, I like to ride to the studio. I was thinking about how lovely it was outside, how maybe I should ride home too. Then I thought of a looming to-do list, the dishes I haven’t washed, the emails to return.  I had scheduled my day so tightly, that a detour along the water would have maybe left me with not enough time.  In this case, I enjoyed the ride one way and I did end up taking the train home, but I thought about this a lot. My practice is about finding space.  I lengthen through my spine, breathe into my ribs to make space in my body. I often over-schedule myself, agree to do too many things. Sometimes this causes anxiety that once was crippling. Lately I have been a little better about taking a day or an afternoon or a morning off. Sometimes just ten minutes breathing with my legs against the wall is enough to rest my day.

It seems a little contradictory to schedule a time of your day where nothing else is scheduled, but if you have multiple jobs, kids, or a hard time taking a break, make a block of time in your week where you don’t do anything in particular. Maybe a whole day. Maybe 20 minutes every day.  Try it. Make the space. Because when we cultivate this space in our lives, we are allowing for things we had not planned, we are open to possibility.  I often find that if I take a walk I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while, or see a new plant, or find the solution to the problem that has been plaguing me

How does this relate to your spine, to your asana class? Making that space in the body allows room for possibility in your body.  Tension closes off muscles and joints and can draw our body in, making us seem unavailable to the world. But lengthening, opening, breathing into the spaces between your ribs is a way to remind your body to be open to possibilities too.

Want to try it? Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Now reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Then relax.  Notice how that made your feel. Now try inhaling into your chest,  gently expanding your chest on all four sides, into your ribs, between your collarbones. Allow this to float the crown of the head up, opening. Again, notice how that felt. There is a subtle difference between stretching that is like reaching and lengthening which is like creating space between your bones.  Think of it as the difference between trying to fit more things into your day and leaving yourself intentional space to see what happens.