Glorious and winter generally do not belong in the same sentence. Glorious describes summer sun, long days and lots of warmth. But today, after 17 years of living in Chicago, I ventured out for my first lake side winter run. It was amazing! It was so warm that I even took off my pull over at the peak of my run. I never dreamed I would be running outside in January here.
I am really not a fan of music being played during yoga class. Although fun and motivating, music diminishes the meditative aspect of yoga that makes yoga so much more than a workout. Below is an open letter from a fellow yogini that illustrates the distractions that playing music during yoga class create.
Open letter to yoga teachers
Please please please yoga teachers,
Drishti: A 2016 Resolution for Developing Focus
An important but sometimes overlooked aspect of a yoga practice is drishti, or focused gaze. Where we look determines what we see and what we focus on. Yoga invites us to bring our full awareness to the moment with all our senses. Drishti provides focal points for our eyes to keep our field of vision on one point. This deepens our concentration and increases awareness of the bodily sensations which sometimes feels intense and unpleasant. When we reach the point of discomfort, we often lose our focus and find ourselves glancing around the room seeking visual stimuli to take us out of the moment.
Seeking visual stimuli is much like seeking external things to escape discomfort or find validation. Our minds wander when we glance around and yoga aims to quiet the mind and increase concentration and awareness. This means remaining present and focused, especially when intense physical sensations, like muscle burning and shaking happen. Keeping our gaze on the focal point ensures we remain present in the intensity and use the breath to flow through it.
Sometimes we do the opposite of glancing around and close our eyes instead. Closing our eyes helps block out the physical intensity. Yoga invites us to enter the physical intensity and use the breath to make it easy and effortless. But we must keep our eyes open to fully be present in the real world yet train our eyes to focus on a point for concentration. Concentration and focus become particularly important in balancing poses. Where we look is what we focus on and yoga's drishti's focus on the body: the nose, the thumbs, the navel, the toes.
Looking at our bodies keeps our focus on experiencing the sensations of the moment and processing them with the breath. The breath, especially a strong, ujjayi breath, brings our attention and awareness of sensations and letting them go with each new asana. Rather than shutting out the physical pain/intensity with closed eyes, we accept the sensations with open eyes and keep moving. Keeping the eyes open but focused enhances our yoga practice as we see where we are in physical space but remain focused inward, developing the union with body and spirit and enhancing our well-being.
Artist and writer exploring the intersection between physical fitness and overall well being.