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Yoga: Intention During Your Practice - Moving Beyond the Self

A major goal of yoga is to create space within the body: space in the lungs as we breath more deeply, space in the muscles and joints as we move and hold postures, stretch and become more flexible. Certainly, we work toward making space within - between our thoughts so that our minds may be a bit less busy and thus allow us to experience calm. We work toward this calm as we focus on our postures while processing all the sights and sounds of the room as well as the thoughts, sensations and emotions that come and go within us. What might it feel like to integrate awareness of the space outside of us, outside of all of us, into our intention? Today, I will walk you through some options and how it might enhance your practice.

It may seem as if there’s enough to focus on in yoga without complicating the matter and adding yet another idea to contemplate as you take your class, but engaging space, that is, visualizing the space outside of ourselves as we close our eyes, can put things into perspective in a profound way. Imagine yourself lying on your mat before the practice begins. Imagine yourself closing your eyes and focusing your attention on the air that’s a few inches above your body; just lie still, breath and visualize the air that surrounds your body. Some refer to this space as an aura, but that’s not a concept you have to be acquainted with nor accept to explore this exercise. So, stay here in focused attention on the space around your body including the space below your mat, such as the ground, earth and soil beneath. Take several breaths here until you no longer feel the desire to switch to another thought. Now you know that you’re ready to continue.

With your eyes still closed, expand the view in your mind’s eye and allow your focus to move from a few inches away from your body to several feet and breath. Perhaps move your neck from side to side as you breath and experience yourself within the air, ground and soil that surrounds you. You may notice a natural desire to move your body at this point; if so, do it. There’s something about noticing the space outside of ourselves that frees us to simply move as our bodies need without premeditation. These two steps are important in that they, first, allow us to see ourselves in relation to the space around us (when you see the air a few inches away) and then the space in relation to ourselves (when you see the space several feet away from you).

Next, envision the air around you from a greater distance. You might visualize this air as sky and the depth beneath you as layers of ground moving toward the chore of the earth. Breath into the recognition of this space and stay until you no longer have the desire to go. Then, continue the expansion. Move past the blue or night sky, the clouds, perhaps, the rain, the chore of the earth, the layers of ground on the other side of the globe and breath into the darkness of space with it’s stars and planets and stay, breathing into the vision and moving if you feel so called or remaining motionless, if you’re so inclined.

Maintain this internal sensing of the space around you as you allow the voice of your teacher to penetrate your internal preparation and begin to move within the space that you have accessed. Feel the weightlessness of your body as you move without the limits of your physical frame, allowing your limbs to fill the air, the space that surrounds you. Open your eyes when you need to, maintaining awareness and notice how your body moves without the limitations of weight and misperception of our bodies ending at the skin, instead expanding exponentially. You may notice that your spine lengthens more easily when your reality integrates space-perception; enjoy it and notice how much space you can create or access within yourself when you experience the space outside of yourself.

Move through the remainder of your practice in this head-space until you’ve finished and are in your final resting pose. Exhale deeply and continue the expansion toward the space beyond our galaxy, going further and further away until you feel that you have gone as far as you can imagine; then go two more inches and breath here. Stay here until you no longer have the desire to go any further. Then, go further.

Take seven deep breaths wherever you happen to be, knowing that you are in the right place for yourself at this time. At the end of your last exhale, envision all this space wrapping back around, taking your mind’s eye through all this vastness; visualize all the galaxies, planets, stars, skies, earth layers and bring your attention to the space above your head and pause, then breath in the vastness. Allow it to hover above your head, two inches away. Then let this fresh, pure, clean air-energy move through your mind, your head, your face, your neck, your torso, your hips, your legs, your toes, your heals and release with your breath this air. Take a few more breaths as you inhale and exhale space-air until you feel cleansed and prepared to surrender to the stillness of relaxation and rest.

Stay-tuned for step-by-step video tutorials of these meditations, yoga sequences, as well as others, along with the basics of meditation, yoga, psychology and lifestyle for emotional well-being; they will be available to you on demand on this site in January, 2022. I can’t wait to contribute to your growing yoga and meditation practices and explore how to integrate them into your psychological growth. Please note that these tutorials will not be presented as alternatives to licensed psychological work, but as helpful supplements to your individual growth. If you are experiencing a psychological emergency and don’t have an ongoing relationship (either in person or web-based individual therapy) with a licensed psychologist with whom you can speak immediately, go to your local emergency room for an evaluation and ask for clinical suggestions.

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