Yoga teachers often ask us to create more space – between the shoulders and ears, between the collar bones, in the belly as we breathe in…very helpful cues for getting the most out of our poses. How might this concept of creating space play into the rest of our lives, both on and off the yoga mat?

Space in Our Days

All too often, our days seem so busy and daunting that we consider skipping yoga entirely – it feels like we have no time! Yet often when we force ourselves to do it anyway, the rest of the day seems to open up as if we had more time than before. How does this work?

Taking the time to focus, unblock energy channels, and breathe deeply decreases stress and helps us to gain and maintain mental clarity and calmness. Looking at the day’s tasks through this lens leads to easier identification of priorities, which means better, more efficient use of time.

Of course the cardiovascular aspect of the practice gives us more energy to get things done, while the activation of the energetic channels can augment the body’s capacity to be creative, see things through, or plan ahead – whatever may be required of a given day.

Certainly some of us have more time than others to practice. Even if you can work in ten mindful breaths each day, you are practicing yoga. You may be surprised at how much space those ten breaths create.

Space in Our Bodies

Asana, the physical poses of yoga, help to lengthen muscles by stretching them. In yin yoga, we ply apart bones and gently release connective tissue to make space for reshaping the body. Yoga poses remind us to stand tall – who hasn’t heard a crackle or two as the spine stretches and space between the vertebrae increases?

Improving our posture creates more space for the vital organs as well. When we practice chest openers, it is easy to feel the capacity of the lungs expand. Deeper, fuller breaths become possible – breaths that cleanse, heal, and create still other kinds of space.

Space in Our Minds

Perhaps the most subtle and ephemeral way yoga creates space is in our thinking. The focus on the breath and the body takes us out of our habitual pattern of believing our thoughts are who we are. The practice – be it breath-work, asana, or meditation – reminds us that everything is in flux. This includes our attitudes, values, and the way we interface with life. A full, conscious breath reminds us to investigate our preconceived notions of what should and shouldn’t be, and allows us to see space for change and growth in our own personal storylines.

This may just be the most powerful space of all.

Julia Tausch practices yoga and writing in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a certified yin yoga instructor, as well as the author of the novel Another Book About Another Broken Heart. She is currently completing her second novel and blogging about the process.