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Spanda & Pendulation

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

This week we are weaving together the wisdom of ancient Tantric knowledge with the acumen of modern somatic therapy.


We begin with Spanda.


Spanda is a Sanskrit word or concept meaning ‘to move a little’ and to understand this concept we employ words such as ‘throbbing, tremor, pulsation, palpation, motion".


Spanda is teaching us about the expansion and contraction of all of life, at all times.


From the expansion of an inhale, to the expansion of our hearts when we are in our flow state, to contractions of the exhale, to emotional contractions of fear and shame.


The relentless expanding and contraction of all things is the fundamental rhythm of life.


Nothing is birthed without contraction first, just as no expansion is complete until it’s met with a new contraction.


On our mats we expand into poses and contract against them.


We expand in the parts of the sequence and contract against others.


We experience both macro and micro pulsations of energy all the time, and Tantra asks you to notice them.


This week we practice with an awareness of this undulating pulsation of creation that courses through every moment and every movement.


We expand from uncreated to created, unmanifest to manifest.


We contract to the stillness, the space between, to the nothingness, and from here expand again.


And we exist at all points in the polarity of the two.


When we tune into the expansions and contractions of our existence, we fall into the heartbeat of creation.


Spanda awareness brings us into alignment with the order, balance, harmony and flow that is our fundamental nature.


This week we pulse with the universe.


Pendulation follows and compliments Spanda.


This term was coined by somatic therapist Peter Levine, and the principles of it, though embedded initially in trauma release, apply to our Yoga practice.


Pendulation comes from the idea of a pendulum swinging side to side.


It’s a skill that somatic therapists (and yoga teachers) must cultivate to keep their clients safe, whilst guiding them lovingly into unchartered territory.


It is a movement from a resourced state, to an un-resourced state and back again.


From a safe familiar place, to somewhere else.


Somewhere new.


Pendulation on the mat is about moving beyond your comfort zone.


It’s about getting a little braver each flow; trusting your body a little more with each breath.


Pendulation requires us to notice the safe familiar states; the return to Tadasana, to Downward Facing Dog, to Child’s Pose, and to move from their comfort to the unfamiliar states; the backbends, the inversions, the balances.


Guided by the breath, we oscillate between the two, gradually expanding our comfort zone beyond where it started.


We are on the mats to get more comfortable with discomfort.


To expand our capacity for discomposure.


In Yoga we use the body to train the mind.


And we do it safely within the rhythm of pendulation.


We dip toes, stretch fingers, bow heads, until it feels okay, then inch over to the edge of not okay.


We return to the safe place in between, recognise our survival, and go back to reach a little further.


This week we tap into the unconscious pendulation on the mats.


Our psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual safety nets, and our exploration to expand them all.


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