create space in tight places

There are a million amazing lessons that yoga can teach, but one that continues to follow me around is how to create space in tight places.  Last week, I had to head to NYC for work (yes, I still have a 9-5).  I was so excited to check out some yoga studios while I was there – Jivamukti, Laughing Lotus, Tara Stiles.  I had my list ready.  But, guess what?  Life happened.  My work schedule closed in on me – dinners with the team, meetings early in the AM and suddenly, those classes I wanted to check out…well, that just wasn’t going to happen.

I was forced to be creative and find space in my tight schedule for my practice.  And so I did.  Pre-dawn in my 12×12 ft Manhattan hotel room (see pic).  There’s something really empowering about the fact that no matter how tight my schedule is or how tiny my hotel room is, I can always find sptightspacesace for my practice.  And that application – creating space in tight places – can be used on so many levels.  On a daily basis, yoga helps me create space in:

  • My body – when my hips are so tight my knees are in my armpits during baddha konasana, I use the time-tested tool that asana practice is founded upon, breath control, and I start to let go.  Sometimes, the tightness in my muscles comes more from the stress in my life than the actual physical make up of my body and tapping into my breath helps me literally let go of the unconscious muscle contractions by figuratively letting go of the stress that’s causing those muscles to contract.
  • My mind – there are moments where my mind feels so full I’m just sure my head will explode and it’s during those times that I use the techniques and traditions of yoga to calm my chitta vrittis and create space for better things to get in there.  I notice that when my mind is full, it’s usually cluttered with negative thoughts: worry, anger, frustration, anxiety and with a few deep breaths and few self-mantras, I’m able to get rid of that negative crap to make space for the positive thoughts steeped in gratitude, compassion, peace and love.
  • My life – life gets chaotic.  Doesn’t matter how much positive thinking you do or how many asana practices you fit in.  Life still gets chaotic.  I think one of the most important lessons that yoga teaches us is that sometimes the space you create needs to be filled with rest.  Decompressing is how we are able to find room in our lives for the things that really matter.  When we take a moment to reset, we analyze the chaos and determine whether it’s worth the stress or not.  For me, just taking that moment to step back makes me realize that the chaos is self inflicted and unnecessary.  And, then, I remove that unnecessary stuff and find room for the necessary stuff.

It’s a simple, but powerful lesson that yoga teaches – let go to make room.  Let go to create space.  Use the breath, use a moment of peace (meditation), use your asana (physical yoga practice).  Use creativity (the space between the wall and the side of the bed will be a perfect yoga studio during my NYC business trip!).  Use whatever you can to leave yourself more open physically and mentally.

How do you create more space in your body, life and mind?