Don't Be Afraid To Take Up Space

You are completely deserving of the space you occupy..png

In yoga, we often remind people that it’s OK to take up space. In fact, we encourage that. On the mat, this often means making your Warrior stance wider, or letting your arms and legs reach to the edges of the mat (or beyond if there’s room!) in Savasana. The idea behind taking up space on your mat, in addition to making sure you have enough room for proper alignment within the pose, is that as humans, we often tend to shrink ourselves. As we walk through life, literally and figuratively, we’re constantly excusing ourselves or apologizing for the space we occupy, worried that we could be in someone’s (again, literal or figurative) way. We apologize for our differing perspectives and way of doing things if someone criticizes or critiques us. We apologize for being different in general. We apologize for asking clarifying questions or making requests that we have every right to make (be honest, how many times have you started communication with “sorry to bother you but…”? I know I do this constantly).  We apologize for anything that could be a minor inconvenience to someone else, even if the outcome is significantly higher stakes for us. Not only that, but when we aren’t apologizing, we’re making ourselves small. We say things like “I was just wondering if it would be OK if maybe…..”. Instead of owning that we have every right to make a decision or a request, we ask timidly ask permission, and even feel bad about asking permission. 

I’ve also noticed, at least in myself, this not wanting to take up space coming up in unexpected places. The other day, I noticed that when I write my affirmations each morning (and I do this every morning), for some reason, I try to squeeze each affirmation onto a single line, smushing my writing and abbreviating words to try to make it fit. Here I am, doing these affirmations for big dreams and goals that I hope to make into a reality, and I’m shrinking them onto one line, because …. I don’t know why. Sure, maybe it takes up an extra line or two and eventually that means needing a new notebook faster, and that could mean more paper aka trees. But realistically, one affirmation going onto the next line here or there is not going to cause a catastrophic impact. I’m simply used to trying not to take up space - even when writing out my biggest, boldest goals and dreams. I’m taking an action that is supposed to make me feel confident and in my space of personal power and I’m physically constraining it to take up less room. 

When we are afraid to take up space, literally or figuratively, whether in our speech or in our notebooks, in our requests , on our mat, when walking down the sidewalk (we have the same right as everyone else to be on that sidewalk and yet we constantly apologize for our presence in a crowd), or when we’re doing whatever we’re doing, it feeds the idea, even subconsciously, that we’re less. That we’re not worthy of that space.  Or that others are more deserving of it. But we are worthy. 100 percent. We are as worthy and deserving of occupying our space as anyone else. 

And so, I encourage you to take up space. Start small. If you take yoga, spread out on your mat a little more. When you write that email, notice if you can take out phrases like “just wondering” and “if possibly” and the like. For me, I’ve stopped trying to scrunch the dreams and goals of my morning affirmations onto one line to take up less space on the page. If it feels uncomfortable, I understand. I’m right there with you. But this month, my theme is all about getting uncomfortable in ways that help me grow. And as difficult as it can be to push past that fear, that worry, that feeling (it shows up in numerous ways) that so often holds me back, I know that each time I do this, I’m getting closer to where I want to be. 

My dog Grace, who’s never afraid to take up space on the mat (even when it’s not technically hers).

My dog Grace, who’s never afraid to take up space on the mat (even when it’s not technically hers).