The Allegory of the (Himalayan Salt) Cave
This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com.
Do you think you can change your perspective on your yoga practice by changing up your venue?
We get so stuck in our habits, our routines, and fall so deeply in love with our go-to yoga studios, that sometimes we forget to embrace the breath. Sometimes we show up for the eucalyptus towels, the steam room, or maybe the free snacks in the lobby (come on—we all do it), and forget about the origins that brought us to practice in the first place.
I sat down with Yoga Therapist, Ellen Patrick, to talk about why she chooses to teach her yoga classes inside a Himalayan Salt Cave located in the heart of New York City—and what she had to say left me questioning, “Am I evolving as a person and not evolving my practice along with me?”
Ellen says, “It’s not about the physical challenge—it’s about adapting a practice to facilitate better breathing.” As we breathe, we change our perspective and can bring more awareness to the habits of our poses, and the habits of our thought patterns—and through that awareness of habit, we can tune in to see what’s dysfunctional, and actively let go of that dysfunction.
Doing yoga in a salt cave brings you an abundance of negative ions, and energetically clears your system—bringing more than double the benefits of your regular yogic breathing. More than that, spending time in a Himalayan Salt Cave has proven to heal asthma, psoriasis, and promotes a sounder sleep. Negative ions, after all, are just another term for positive energy—and who doesn’t feel more relaxed with positivity in the air? Negative ions are regularly found in nature, and they promote clearer thinking, as well as help center and ground your energy.
Isn’t a clear mind, centered and grounded energy, and strengthening our bodies what yoga is all about? So why do we get stuck in the habits of going to the same yoga classes over, and over, and over again, if those classes maybe can’t offer us the wide open perspective we might so desperately need?
There is no set form of yoga, just like there is no one set form of thought. If we use yoga to “undo the knots of thought patterns,” as Ellen says, then maybe we have a chance to strengthen our practice.
For example, think of getting into downward dog. Normally, you focus on the back of the legs, the calves, and the way that your back body opens up. However, what about the breath? Where is it?
The breath is pushing your diaphragm up (with all the weight of your organs)—so this solar plexus muscle is getting a work out! When people don’t breathe properly, they limit the negative ions that enter into their system.
“It’s not about the physical challenge, it’s about being fluid and being alive.”
It’s about understanding that the poses get formed with intention—whether the intention is to strengthen the solar plexus, or about opening up our muscles as wells as our minds.
We don’t need to crunch into our poses, we don’t need to crunch into our mental thought patterns, and we don’t need to crunch into our practice.
We need to open, engage a little bit more, and when we are ready—we will untie the knots of thinking that there is only one way to empower our practice, and to open up our perspective.