When the world gets smaller, we EXPAND! By Mary Pat FitzPatrick
Without the ability to expand, bridges wouldn’t have flexibility in their structure, a cobra wouldn’t look fearsome when facing a predator, an expectant mother couldn’t accommodate her developing baby, minds couldn’t step away from ego to embrace the unknown, and yoga asana would not experience its full potential.
Expansion requires a base and a sense of direction. Just as a rubber band could not expand if the focus was only on one end, in order for an asana pose to move in multiple directions, it needs to ground before expanding up or out. The base of a pose may be a lifted chest, hands, sit bones, feet, or anything else the student chooses as their foundation. Jeff (pictured in Trikonasana) is primarily grounding through his feet and right hand and extending through his fingers and toes. By connecting his right hand to the table and “pinning” his left hip, Jeff is able to find length in the right side of his body and all the way up his left side, from his toes to his fingers. He has also created length from his tailbone throughout his spine, extending beyond the top of his head.
In Trikonasana, the base is altered, which changes the effects of gravity on the pose. It is an ambitious balancing asana which may be enjoyed and explored for a lifetime. It has a striking shape which is fun to muscularly move into. An “advanced” yoga student can create expanse with ease in subtle ways, such as lifting the chest, broadening across the collar bones, and “dropping a curtain down the back side of the body”. Getting bigger in space and exploring the effects an asana practice has on the body and mind are just a few of the benefits of an expansive yoga practice.