The Space Between…
Sometimes when I am teaching, particularly a Hatha class or maybe a Vinyasa Flow and I invite the students to pause for a moment, I can almost feel the wave of annoyance ripple through the room. What!? Pause!? We don’t want to pause. We don’t have time to pause. Go, go, go…I get it. I feel that annoyance myself, often. Not only when I am taking a yoga class, but at stop lights, in the grocery store line, waiting for someone to put their shoes on. Go, go, go…
The space between in yoga can be many things. It can be the space between your inhale and exhale, the space you are trying to lengthen between your ears and your shoulders, or the space between your thoughts and your actions. Our bodies are wonderful creations; they were developed when a quick reaction time was essential for survival, often you didn’t have a lot of time for thought before taking action. If we were faced with a tiger we needed to react immediately. We are inherently ready to fight or take flight. (See my last blog…Fearless)
Today’s society reinforces this need for immediacy, a quick response time. We have an expectation to always be on, to be ready: at work, at home, even socially. Do you ever feel like you need to respond to an email immediately? Or are annoyed if someone else doesn’t? Both happen to me all the time. If I remember to pause, not only do I get to decide if an immediate response is necessary (not usually), but my thought out response is always well, smarter, than my instantaneous one.
The space between we practice in yoga class, not only helps us calm our fight or flight instinct; it also can slow our other, somewhat animal like tendencies. When I am stressed, in the mode of go, go, go, I tend to become like a chipmunk storing up for winter, devouring as many acorns, or in my case, chocolate peanut butter cups I can get my paws on. However, when I am able to take a breath and find that space between my thought and my action, my action becomes a choice and not just a reaction.
A great yoga class is built to help us practice that pause, that rest, that space between. And because our minds and bodies are awesome, the more we practice this in yoga class, the more we practice it in life. After all, it’s probably part of our DNA as well. Our ancestors probably didn’t go looking for the next tiger immediately after fending off the last one, they probably rested, maybe even in Savasana.
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