Vinyasa, making space

ekam hands.jpg

We live in overpopulated cities, our email accounts are overflowing with spam and emails waiting to be answered, our agendas are booked up days and weeks in advance, and our heads get filled with the news and gossip from our social media feeds. More than ever we need to create space for ourselves. Space to simply be. Fortunately we have an amazing tool for achieving this, the vinyasa.

Vinyasa is much more than simply connecting postures with chaturanga dandasana, upward facing dog, and downward facing dog but a framework for focussing our attention. Rather than thinking of vinyasa as a challenging physical practice (which it definitely can be), instead let’s approach it as the effort to focus. Our vinyasa practice is the tool we can use to steer our mind, be with our breath, move our body with intention and precision, and draw our senses inward. Vinyasa literally means to place in a certain way or place with devotion. We do this in practice by allowing a phase of our breath to initiate a particular movement in our body and eyes to draw our attention to a clear point. In Ashtanga, with our very first vinyasa (ekam) our inhale moves our arms overhead so our palms touch and our gaze rests at our thumbs.

vi = emphasizes root word; in a special way
nyasa = to place

This powerful synergy moves us with intention. This three-dimensional focus gives us space, but we must be precise for it to work. It’s like aiming at a target. First you take aim and sustain your focus while you draw the bow and when you release the arrow you hold your focus through to when the arrow hits the target. But how do we know if our aim is true?

Our breath is our compass. We have to learn to listen to the subtleties of it and to navigate the space it creates. That makes this a life practice. But we have to be vigilant as it can be easy to fall into automatic pilot once we become familiar with the mechanics. Just as we can easily be distracted by the postures themselves whether it is in over-efforting or not being willing to let go of patterns we are familiar with. We need to be willing to take a step back, to modify where needed, at times to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, and to always honor the changes that need to occur in our body and mind to facilitate our growth and wellbeing. So even when we practice the same postures everyday, our experience is always unique. That we give ourselves the space to arrive where we are without the need to be anywhere else.


Lana & Mercedes