As yoga students, we all strive to embody yoga in our lives – both on and off the mat. We practice awareness. We try to be healthy and kind. We try to meditate. We practice ahimsa, non-violence, by being okay with not meditating. We try not to judge others and more importantly, we try not to judge ourselves. As yoga students, we know that our practice off the mat is often harder than our practice on the mat. The other day, I attended Shannon Kluever’s class. Run down and exhausted, I told Shannon how tired, tense, and constricted I felt. She looked at me, and in her smooth, even tone, suggested I speak slower. Sometimes I speak so fast I don’t finish what I am saying as if sound outruns my words. Other times, I speak so fast the words collide into a scrambled unintelligible noise. Shannon suggested I pause before speaking not only to create space in my mind but to also create space for those around me. The imagery of space between my words to create room in my environment resonated with me. I practice and advise my students to use their breath to clear their body and minds of tension, stress, the left-over stale parts of yesterday. Why not create space through my words too?
The fifth chakra, located in your throat, resides over voice, communication, and resonant vibrations. Just as the neck connects the head and the body, the fifth chakra is considered the bridge between mind and body. What we think in our minds and what we feel in our body comes out through sound vibrations. When our fifth chakra is off balance, blocked or excessively open, we are unable to fortify a solid connection between our mind and body. This disconnect can be actualized as an inability to speak up, speak out, speak truthfully, or stop speaking. My frequent inability to listen, the need to always talk, to interrupt others, and to be a dominant force in conversations exacerbates an already off-balanced fifth chakra.
As I awaken to the obvious connection between language and consciousness, I recognize my disjointed body/mind connection. I habitually reach for my phone to peruse Facebook or check emails without intention behind my action. I walk my dog, day dreaming, completely absorbed in my head, unaware where I am going or how I got someplace. As I pause to observe my words before speaking, I find the space is creating opportunities for self-awareness.
I am reminded of an earlier blog post where I touched upon the potentiality of empty space. In the pauses of my words, in the act of mindfulness, I find that I have begun to slow down everywhere: how I eat, shower, walk. I pause in my thoughts and notice what my body is doing. As I fight the urge to rush forward, I find myself fully aware of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Sometimes sadness envelopes me as I decelerate, sometimes exhilaration, sometimes nothing but being alive.
If like the sages say, language is consciousness, then how can not only the words we say but how we say them also affect our psyches? Feelings from our heart move upward to our throat and what develops in our mind moves downward toward our throat. As thought and feeling meet, we speak, communicate, and listen. On the mat, we are instructed to observe our breath, note bodily sensations, and unite breath and movement in order to connect to our innermost Self. Off the mat, the same is true. To connect intention and action, pause before words, observe the space in our breath, and listen to those around us is, I am discovering, when we really begin to know who we truly are.
 Amazzone, Laura. Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power. Lanham, Hamilton Books: 2010. Print.