The first time I experienced blindfold yoga I was nervous, but the excitement I felt overrode any hesitation I might have had from the nervousness. I was excited for many reasons, but primarily I was interested in going deeper into my personal practice. I am all about the practice of feeling in yoga (sensations, emotions), and when it was explained that the blindfold would help me to go deeper inward and be present with my practice, I was sooo in. I fell in love – It’s now my favourite way to practice.
As a teacher when I talk to students about doing a blindfold yoga class, the reactions are always mixed. Most are apprehensive; afraid of falling, worried that the class will be challenging or that they’ll look silly. I guarantee that it is worth the risk. Trust yourself. Trust me!
It took me a long time to cut out external/visual distractions during class and be able to tune inward. In fact, I often find myself still being pulled out and away from my body when practicing; always checking to make sure I heard the instructions right, admiring someone’s leggings, and practicing as a teacher I often pay attention to how other students react to certain cues. But it’s only natural. The mind constantly uses the eyes to make comparisons, to form an identity by using a measurement of how we compare to the world around us. By removing the ability to see, sight is forced inward. The self-judgement and comparing slows and eventually stops, and we are left with nothing but the self.
How often do you close your eyes? I’m not talking about blinking, or closing your eyes for a nap or to go to bed at night. I’m talking about standing tall, in a place where you feel safe, and floating the eyes closed. Right away, you’ll notice the wobbles and shifts of the body, adjusting itself to stay standing. The body will react to compensate for any imbalances, and the other, under-utilized senses become more active. Removing your most relied-on sense has a way of putting things in perspective; time becomes irrelevant, stress fade, plans get put aside for later. Nothing matters except the very moment you are in.
Practicing yoga blindfolded is a time to slow down the asana practice, and tune deeper into the breath. The present moment becomes magnified. The other senses become more in-tune and refined. Your mind must be more focused and present; if the mind wanders at all, or shifts to something outside of the body, you will feel lost. Practicing without the use of your vision allows you to connect to your deeper self, and to cultivate a renewed sense of self confidence. You will learn to trust yourself more fully, becoming more in tune with your intuition and the wisdom of your body.
On the last Thursday of every month, I will host a blindfold yoga practice at 7:30pm at Pranashanti Yoga Centre, designed to let you journey inward in a safe, supported space. Discover what it feels like to move and breathe without vision, and support a good cause at the same time! A portion of proceeds from these classes will be donated to Seva Canada, a Canadian organization that works to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world.