Yoga is a method of healing. Beyond the postures, the breathing, meditation, visualization and manipulation of flows of energy through locks (bandha) help people transform their lives, heal injuries, and improve their relationships.
The first ingredient necessary for healing is space. When you go to a chiropractor, he or she creates more space so the joints can move freely. In yoga class, you stretch, rotate, and twist the body so the energy can move freely. When you need to create more space in a structured mass, if you can’t change the matter, you can use rotation to create the spaciousness, to give relief. When you rotate the spine, legs, or arms correctly, it creates space. Micro adjustments in the body allow what was congested to become spacious.
Where is the space in the breath? How can you find more space? By inhaling more? If you’re full already, it can be difficult to add more. Let’s relate this idea to shopping. Let’s say you need more “breath” –- so you go shopping, look for it, find a store, select the right breath and style for you and purchase it. And then bring it home. That’s the moment when you realize you don’t have any space for this or the stuff you purchased last week. That’s when you need the exhalation. The exhalation is the process of cleaning out your closets, making room for the new. The exhalation and its retention increase your capacity; when you finally inhale, it’s a fuller breath. This is why the exhalation is emphasized in many healing modalities including yoga.
The purpose of yoga as a tool for healing is to create a structure of bones and muscle tissue that allows spaciousness. As you move into a structural correction, look for the spacing. The rotation of the bones, the rotation of your schedule, or even the rotation of your relationship should create a feeling of openness. When a teacher makes a correction to someone’s posture in yoga class, to fulfill this intention, the teacher asks, “How does that feel?” If it feels worse, there is a missing link—the communication about where spaciousness can be found is missing.
Spaciousness needs to be present both in your relationship to self (the body) and your relationships with others. If you are in relationship with someone and you’re not allowing them to be who they are, then there’s no spaciousness. If you are expecting your partner to adhere to the same principles that you hold to be true, then you’re not allowing your partner to find his or her way. There’s no spaciousness. You might say, “I found yoga and it’s working for me, so really darling, you should be doing yoga too.” That’s not spacious. Your partner might prefer jogging or windsurfing.
How can you allow and welcome new energy and new energetic structure? The first place I begin is with the breath. You create a breathing form and then rotate or change the form so there’s more spaciousness in it.
Let’s explore a little bit. To show the contrast, first notice the way you breathe — you may be grabbing breath sporadically to fuel your conversations. You can put the breath into a structure. Try inhaling four counts, holding four counts, exhaling four counts, and holding four counts. This is a structure. Once you establish it, you can widen it, slow it down, change the rhythm in order to affect a change.
Creating a structure with the breath or in yoga postures will entrain the body to find space. To me the breath feels like water, moving freely throughout the body and tissues. Yogic breathing can bring you to a more relaxed state of mind; it can open you to consciousness itself.
This will in turn bring spaciousness in the body, with food, with relationships, and so on. Yoga is about finding and establishing right relationship. If you are doing a lot of yoga and your relationships are not harmonious, then you haven’t yet begun your work. Find right relationship to self (how to care for mind and body), right relationship to others (how to care for friends, family), and right relationship to Source (how to allow partnership with soul or spirit). Find right relationship with the Earth, including how much you throw away, how much you discard as being unworthy, how much you give back, how much you replenish. In all this, we’re looking for space because space is the first ingredient for healing.
We all want more space but we don’t give the old outdated energy a way to leave. You can’t hold onto old paradigms and simultaneously invite the new. For example, with the cancer patients I have worked with, as various congested areas start to transform, it is important to give the energy a way to go out.
Once the old goes, there’s a new space. What are you going to fill it with? Bring in new ideas, paradigms, energy. Coherent energy: Geometric, sacred, symmetrical, beautiful, Fibonacci style algorithms. Spacious, divine things that feel good, things that are inclusive. Flow like nature flows.
Wah!’s book Healing: a Vibrational Exchange explores ways you can find more space and healing in your life. Purchase Healing: a Vibrational Exchange here.
Wah! has been making music for the yoga world for 25 years and published books on yoga and healing. Wah! teaches women’s leadership training, sound healing workshops, yoga teacher training, and performs Healing Concerts in planetariums and theaters across the country.