I had always known about the benefits of lengthening the body through my yoga practice. It was an interesting concept to me to learn of dukha and sukha. As the body occupies space, it can become congested and blocked. Yoga allows us to use the asanas, pranayamas and meditation to “open space.” What physical changes have you noticed in your body through the lengthening of space in your yoga practice?
Opening Your Inner Space: Dukha and Sukha
The word for suffering Sanskrit is dukha, but it means much more than the English translation. Literally, it means “obstructed space.” Whenever there is depression, there is contraction. Some area of the body or mind is compressed; some area of the emotions is blocked.
Depression, viewed this way, is treated by creating more space – sukha – which is exactly what you do when you practice Yoga. Yoga postures (asanas) and pranayama breathing exercises expand the lungs, decompress areas of tension, and release dammed-up emotions, creating a freer space within the body and mind. Most scholars translate sukha as “happiness,” but the word literally means “unobstructed” or “open space.”
“Whenever someone comes to me, whether it’s for depression or a breathing difficulty or a back pain, what I’m assuming is that there is some place in the system that is obstructed, that needs more space. Whether the problem is in her joints, her spine, or with her breathing, there’s a sense of congestion or blockage or obstruction.”
All the practices of Yoga – the asanas, the pranayamas, the chanting, and the meditations – address these blockages and begin to release them.
BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab