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“Pranayama {breath} literally means the agama – expansion or manifestation – of prana. Prana is the vital energy of the universe.” ~ Swami Rami 

Contrary to it’s literal meaning {the act of becoming larger or more extensive} ‘expansion’ in yoga is actually about letting go or “doing less” in order to achieve more.
Expansion in yoga is a concept the describes both the physical and spiritual aspects of the practice. In the physical sense ‘expansion’ can relate to our lungs expanding with the breath, our postures helping a yogi to grow & progress, movement allowing prana or vital life-force energy to flow through the body.
On a spiritual level, the concept of ‘expansion’ is much more subtle yet ironically most significant. On this level, it means letting go of unconscious contraction, thereby allowing the yogi to be present in the here and now. In other words, by doing less (or letting go of the busyness) and being more mindful in our thoughts and actions, we are actually achieving more. Hence the phrase “less is more”.
Expansion occurs during yoga practice when the yogi lets go of internal and external clutter and becomes conscious of the breath, physical sensations and energy. The simple (though not necessarily easy) act of drawing our awareness inward to notice more about our body through sensations and subtle messages.

“In yoga practice, over time you use fewer muscles more efficiently. Expansion does require energy, but it should not require a great deal of effort.” ~ Brenda Strong

Exploring expansion on the mat…

  • Let go of the clutter or any expectation and just notice the feeling as you move the body through space.
  • Be aware of the mat beneath you and the air around you.
  • Experience the breath as you inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Be conscious of the sensations in the body as you engage and release certain postures.
  • Acknowledge and honour your body in the here and now, knowing that it may vary from day to day and may require something different from your practice each time you step on the mat.

Achieving expansion off the mat…

  • Slow down the pace of life to allow yourself to experience every moment or at the very least taking short pauses in amongst the chaos to bring more awareness to how you feel.
  • Notice your breath through both good and challenging moments.
  • Honour what your body and mind need on any given day – sometimes that may be energising movement, sometimes rest and recovery.
  • Reduce the chatter to pay attention to the moment and open your mind to what you notice.
When we let go of the busyness of our thoughts and instead`choose to be ‘mindful’ of the present moment, we can feel an incredible expansion in both the body & mind.
Join us on the mat this month as we guide you through ways to find more expansion in your practice, to become more aware, to reduce the clutter and bring your consciousness to the present moment.
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified Yoga Therapist at Eastern Osteopathy Melbourne, specialising in pre/postnatal + women’s health. She teaches yoga and does the social media marketing at Kula Yoga. Andy is also co-founder of YogaMamas, a health & wellness blogger, photographer and busy mama of 3!
Detoxify & energise with Hot Yoga. Tone & sculpt with Power Flow. Strengthen & stretch with Basics and Slow Flow. Relax & mobilise with Yin Yoga at our beautiful studio in Hawthorn, Melbourne.
We also offer Prenatal & Postnatal yoga classes and Yoga With Baby. Our studio also hosts regular workshops, Victorian and overseas retreats to exotic places like Bali and Thailand, as well as a mobile yoga service for community, school and corporate groups. Kula Yoga is the largest studio in the Camberwell and Hawthorn area offering 39 classes, 7 days a week. Enjoy modern facilities, expert teachers and a range of complementary wellness services for optimal health.
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