Yesterday in my yoga class, I decided to do as much of the class as I could with my eyes closed. I’ve noticed that in a yoga class, your state of mind can really run the gamut. Some days, I’m (we’re) feeling chatty and much talk and subsequent laughter ensues during the hour. Other days, when maybe the ol’ self-esteem is not working at full-throttle, I’m glancing in the mirror and lamenting how the la derriere looks in la yoga pants. And I will be honest-there are some days, rare as they are, that I simply try to get through the class because my heart is not in it despite knowing it’s good for me to be there. Generally on those days, I still leave the class happy that I came. Just getting out the door is the issue once in a while.
And then are there days like yesterday. I attended whole-heartedly and decided to play around during those 60 minutes. I went with this mindset because several times during the past week, I had conversations with people who have mentioned the word “mindfulness”. That is generally not a word that is worked into too many everyday conversations, so I connected the dots of my week and decided that the universe was wanting me to take notice.
So there I was, with my eyes wide shut for the majority of my class. Yoga and movement took on a completely new state-I was sort of amazed, actually. And this from removing one of my senses temporarily (thankfully I have 5 working ones so that I can experiment this way). I listened to my teacher and her gentle, leading words, all the while absorbing the music that played. Strangely enough, they were both there and not there at the same time, if that makes any sense. Sort of like invisible hands guiding you through a fog. Or maybe a vibrant, clean-smelling, earthy forest-my mind was not foggy yesterday.
What happened is that because of not looking at anything (teacher, mat, floor, walls, beads of sweat dropping), I was hyper aware of my body’s movements. This is not a revolutionary idea, by any stretch of the imagination (but maybe it IS the imagination stretching…huh. There’s a thought), but when you key into one thing-this thing being my own body-it becomes grand and you really notice the inner workings of it. Anatomy 101, while seeing what it can do. Bend into down dog, feel the ligaments stretching that you intellectually know are always there but don’t really focus on them…move into plank and down into chatarunga, bend those arms and sloooowly lower to the ground. I was keenly aware of the strength my arms possessed at that moment. It wasn’t me looking in a mirror and watching myself do the pose, it was my brain talking me through it and my body feeling it for me to “see”. This was an in-a-body experience and it was very intriguing, to say the least.
What this lead to was a supreme case of mindfulness. I focused on this one thing-my body and the movements-and came away from the experience richer. A gardener who I spoke to recently mentioned how you have to be mindful when you use a Japanese spade in your garden-you need to dig very gingerly around the plants so as not to disturb them. She said that you can’t have your mind wandering because if you do, there goes the garden and all those little sprouts that depend on you to encourage them to grow. My aunt and I were also discussing how to make a particular soup last weekend. Which order to put in the ingredients for the best, most flavorful outcome. We came to the conclusion that passion and mindfulness are two of the main ingredients for any successful recipe. Step away from that stove, answer the phone and your soup will not be the soup it could have been.
Be like the good cook. Be like the nurturing gardener. Be like the sight-impared yogi.
Be present and mindful.
Full of mind.
And nothing else.