In the run up to Christmas, life automatically becomes more frantic and busy. Planning family time; who is going where for Christmas; what presents to buy; the looming end of the year; and money troubles, all come to the fore.
This week, I have been exploring the idea of finding space within my classes. A common cue and phrase that most will hear within a yoga class is ‘find space’, as we stretch and maneuverer into different poses and attempt to open up various parts of the body. However, yoga is far more than just opening up the body, it is also a time to create space for you, your mind, and your heart. A yoga class, or your own personal practice, is a space in which you can reconnect with yourself and with the world around you.
Space, it turns out, has numerous connotations.
Finding space at this time of year, therefore, becomes even more important. Christmas is a time for family, for giving, for gratitude and if we have not created time for ourselves, we will not give or receive as much as we can. So in order to receive, we must open up. This does not mean you have to instantly find a yoga mat and start moving. But it does mean you should try to allocate some time to yourself, to create space and awareness of your mind and body, as well as those around you. Yoga is a profound practice, not only because it can give you physical strength and flexibility but ultimately (and most importantly) because it has the power to create space in your mind and your life.
Start with something simple, like the breath. The breath is the most readily available tool to all of us and can have outstanding effects on our mental health and wellbeing. Breathe deeply through your nose, feel your chest expand, the stomach swell and notice, with every breath, how the mind starts to clear, how space is found within the lungs and in the torso. Such a simple practice enables you to find space in the busiest of times. You can of course take this further, linking movements with the breath and discovering physical space in the body, a moving meditation. Connecting the breath with the heart is not difficult. Scientifically we know that the breath keeps the body oxygenated and the heart pumps the oxygen around the body. There is also the swelling of the chest as we breathe into the lungs, the known heart centre. Through the breath we also begin to open up the heart, creating space for it to grow and expand. Take this connection further by bringing the hands to the heart and notice the heat of the hands as the fingers stretch and release with every breath. The power of the breath is incredible.
So, I encourage you to find space within your life – wherever you need it. Find your own safe haven, and open up your mind, body and heart this Christmas, so you have the space to invite others in and share it with you.