The Practice of Finding Those Wide Open Spaces



About a month ago, I was feeling so cramped up being mostly in the small the suburb of Gokulam in Mysore, India. I felt this incredible restlessness that could only be quieted by riding my scooter out into the fast road out of town, towards the open rice fields and farmland along the Cauvery River. I was nervous at first, unsure of the way, because I rarely ventured out alone. I had gotten complacent and comfortable in my surroundings, little noticing until that moment that I craved for more than yoga practice, houses, wandering livestock and fellow yoga students.

I remember feeling great relief when the landscape opened up. It was a reminder that wide open green space, fresh air and nature was so readily available so long as I was willing to leave my comfort zones.

This is often what I feel in my own practice and body. How the body I sometimes think I have is a little different from the body I actually have. How, at times, I perceive my limitations as permanent state of being.

Our yoga practice helps us find space where we might think there is none. These spaces can be small, or big, or so subtle that they appear to hardly exist in the body. It can be the difference between comfort and dis-ease, lightness or suffering. At times these spaces are in our minds only, and when we respond to challenges better, we create space and this, too, reflects in our body.

In no way is pushing a good thing. Knowing our limitations is also a good thing too, it keeps us safe. Do not push, but rather be willing to explore, to step beyond what is comfortable and easy, because beyond that bit of uncertainty these is so much space.





Sometimes, we break down. We wear out our bodies with habitual misuse and patterns of misbehavior, which more often than not sneaks into even the most-mindful of asana practices.

I arrived in India all set to dig deep into my personal practice but also incredibly worn out. My back spasmed, an early warning sign, I feel now, asking me to reassess my approach to my body’s habits amd movements. And since then, practice here in Mysore, India has been about slow and steady healing, rebuilding and reconstructing a practice–so that it might be better than before, more sustainable, more long-lasting.

The great lesson of this time has been about the healing properties of practice, particularly primary series, which is apply named “yoga chikitsa” or “yoga therapy,” the space that the breath creates, the heat that slowly allows the body to mend. It has been a great exercise in patience and acceptance, an amazing opportunity to observe the pull of the ego and my own attachment to the physical aspect of practice.

There has been pain of all sorts: body, heart and mind–though what remains is this: a great sense of reconciliation and harmony between the three. Of course, there are all sorts of pains and varying degrees of injury, but this recent experience is a reminder for me that each difficulty, each challenge is a gift, that we are called to have courage enough to unwrap it.

PHOTO: Tower on Kukkarahalli Lake, taken nearly 2 months ago. Today, scaffolding is already off the renewed structure. My back is also very well now, after 7 weeks of practicing only primary series, I returned to practicing intermediate poses pain free . Everything changes with time–so long as we give it space enough to do so.