28 Set INSIDE/OUT
A student of mine asked me this question: Is it right that one of the unique experiences Vanda offered was “to move from the inside to the outside”? In all the books I read about Yoga, it is always the other way around – feel the periphery of the body and go more and more inside.
Vanda taught that when you are in movement and practicing an asana, you exhale .
There are numerous reasons for this: as you exhale, the spine is naturally lengthening – in exhalation, your abdomen is moving inward towards the spine, without any forcing on the part of the practitioner and as a result, awakening the spine. This allows space to be created between each vertebra. Furthermore, with attention and practice, in exhalation, gravity is pulling you deeply through your feet into the earth. By doing this, there is solid contact with our Mother Earth which allows for the marvelous mystery of a division at the waist when the lower part of the body becomes stronger and stronger as the upper part becomes ever lighter.
As you exhale, air is being released out of your body: this is a purifying process and an invitation to release tensions. In exhalation, if you are mentally in tune with your body, you are led into a distillation and elimination of accumulated debris: as a result there is a ridding of many things which have been accumulated over the years, including damaging or misunderstood thoughts, incorrect body positioning, erroneous actions, etc.
Therefore, we move from inside/out.
Does this not reflect nature’s way?
Let us see what Vanda wrote in Awakening the Spine:
“Along the pull of gravity, the muscles (through the spine) work correctly lengthening and elongating outwardly, in an unlimited fashion, in the right direction (from in to out). Instead, when we contract incorrectly, restrict, or squeeze them, moving inwards from the periphery (from out to in) they shorten, limiting us. This indicates that the direction is wrong. Thus we find ourselves pushed into a corner.” (Pg. 162 1991 edition)