The Wisdom in Balance: Contracting and Expanding

NOTE TO START: This will be the beginning of a new era of writing which will focus on my two current areas of interest — Yoga and Energy Medicine. I have been teaching yoga in the Kripalu tradition for 25 years and, for the past three years, I have been teaching an Energy Medicine Yoga Class. Even more recently, I have started a certificate program in Eden Energy Medicine which has deepened my understanding of this powerful ancient healing modality. My website will still host the mindful eating (books and meditations) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (meditations and yoga practices) I developed. I am no longer teaching the Eat for Life classes. For more information on mindful eating, I refer you to The Center for Mindful Eating. For more on yoga, Energy Medicine Yoga, and Eden Energy Medicine, read on and join me in this new journey of healing and health.

Expanding and Contracting

The poet Rumi wrote about the action of expanding and contracting in a way that helps me understand this flow of opposites. He wrote:

Your hand opens and closes
And opens and closes.
If it were always a fist
Or always stretched open,
You would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small
Contracting and expanding—
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
As bird wings.

The actions of contracting and expanding are found throughout the yoga asana practice. There is contraction and expansion with the breath. There is contraction and expansion with our movements. But we can also find this movement in the changing of the seasons. In summer, flowers bloom, vegetables mature, you spend more time outside, and the world expands in numerous ways. As the days grow colder, it is natural to start staying inside more, the trees begin to change colors and lose their leaves, and there is the beginning of contraction into winter. These are natural rhythms we can explore in our lives.

Finding Balance

Just over the weekend, I noticed my body saying, “Slow down and rest.” I listened and responded by sitting in a warm bath Saturday night and helping my muscles and my mind release and let go. Sunday I embraced the idea of a “day of rest.” This is not my usual go-go-go mode and it felt right and in tune with the season. Nature is contracting and so am I. Monday I felt rested and ready to go again. But, just as the Rumi poem suggests, go-go-go (or expansion) is not sustainable without the opposite action of resting (contraction).

How are you balancing these two actions in your life? Are you on “go” too much of the time without the respite of resting? Or maybe you are contracting most of the time without the energy to expand with work, play, and other activities. Finding the balance between these two can help you feel more grounded and aligned with yourself. There are numerous ways you can do this. For instance, you want to keep active with movement and exercise, but maybe you weave in some more restorative poses or less strenuous activity from time to time. Balance work and other activities with downtime that includes more introspection with meditation or journal writing.

Try This Free 30-Minute Yoga Video

To help you explore this movement of contracting and expanding, I am including an Energy Medicine Yoga class that I taught on the Healing Life Platform. This video was posted with a discount for their membership. But you can access the video for free without signing up as well. Healing Life is a web-based membership site that offers weekly live Energy Medicine Yoga Classes, talks with Integrative and Natural Doctors, education for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, gut issues, fatigue, pain, and more, Reiki and Qigong, and unlimited on-demand classes, and replays of live classes.

Here is what Healing Life said:

As the vibrant hues of summer transitioned to the crisp, golden days of fall, our energies and intentions naturally followed suit. At Healing Life, we believe in embracing this seasonal shift, and we invite you to join us for a transformative experience with Dr. Lynn Rossy’s “EMYoga Expand and Contract: Moving From Summer to Fall.”In this enriching class, guided by Dr. Lynn Rossy, you will learn the transformative principles of EMYoga. Experience the harmonious flow of energies as you expand into the qualities of Summer and gracefully contract into the introspection of Fall. It’s a dance of balance, a celebration of the shifting seasons within and around you.

Let me also remind you that I teach an Energy Medicine Yoga Class Online or On Demand most Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Central Time. There is an Energy Medicine page on my website where you can stay up-to-date with information about this offering and more related to Energy Medicine.