It’s interesting how extraordinary experiences happen when doing familiar things differently. When I tried going through my Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow today, I decided on a whim to change my routine. Yesterday, I talked about being true to our personal practice and not following a yoga routine mechanically. Building off this idea, I had a curious thought come to me while I began my sequence today. “What is yoga like for people who are blind?“
This thought became the catalyst for the rest of my practice. I made a makeshift blindfold and resolved to go through my whole sequence without seeing. My hour of blindness was enlightening. Because I couldn’t use my eyes to position myself, I had to root down into postures more to not lose balance. However, I realized throughout all my years of practicing, my body had developed sufficient muscle memory to go through the sequence without seeing.
My senses of sound and touch heightened to make up for my lost sight. I could trust myself to move correctly, without fearing failure. My breathing pushed my body through the flow and became a more active participant especially as I transitioned between different positions. By the end of the practice, I was physically exhausted but my mind felt less restricted.
There is a quote I feel fits today’s theme. Maya Angelou once said, “We are only as blind as we want to be.” I can honestly say I didn’t feel restricted as I went through this sequence today. I trusted myself more and didn’t judge my body for its weaknesses or imperfections as badly. Perhaps this is because I was trying to see in a deeper, more fulfilling way. I had no one to compare myself to, including myself. All I had to go on as an indicator for my practice was how I felt. It’s hard not to feel proud of yourself when your body and mind feel so satisfied.
After going through my experience, I went on to see if there are other yogis around the world who do their practice blindfolded. Unsurprisingly, there are many studios around the world who do this. (If you are interested, here are several websites detailing blinded yoga practices: yogalife.org, wanderlust.com, yogabasics.com, Gaia.com.)
Yoga teacher and writer Andrea Rice from Wanderlust.com noted in her article Blindfolded Yoga: Not Seeing is Believing, “When sight is removed from your yoga practice, there’s no choice but to turn inward and heighten your other senses.” In an interview with fellow yoga teacher Rina Jakubowicz, she asked a poignant question. “How does blindfold yoga help to improve the practice?” Ms. Jakibowicz’s answer really got me thinking.
When you remove your most relied-upon sense—your sight—your other senses heighten naturally, forcing you to look within and observe the weaker areas that need strengthening. You will get physically stronger because you are more consciously using your muscles so as to not lose your balance. You also get a window into your deeper, inner-most thoughts, which could be making your practice suffer.
And because you’re blindfolded, you’re not competing with anyone in class and really tuning into yourself without judgment.Rin Jakubowicz, as quoted by Andrea Rice in Blindfolded Yoga: Not Seeing is Believing
If you have never tried blindfolded yoga, I would recommend it, even as just a one-time experience.
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.