By Michelle Cross
So when you go to a yoga class or do some self practice, the yoga you practice is all about you. After all it is just you, your yoga mat and what you do. You may like to think of your yoga mat as your magic carpet that takes you to new places within your body and mind…the journey of yoga! How wonderful!
It is a nice idea to contain your space to your yoga mat, apart from enjoying the energy of a class, the other people in it and the teacher, it is your time to practice, become aware, open and learn. So there is no point looking at the person next to you. If you are doing self practice this is a lot easier of course, you do not have another person next to you, you do however need the commitment to observe yourself.
So let us look at the beginning of a class or you self practice – a simple step to help you explore your yoga is when you close your eyes. This helps you to bring your awareness inwards so you can start to focus on yourself and let go of distractions. When you close your eyes, your ears and other senses become more receptive. You are more receptive to what the teacher is guiding you to do. By closing your eyes the intention is to allow you to observe your self – your mind (is it thinking of lots of thoughts of the day), how your body feels lying in Savasana or sitting crossed legged (is it tired or open to what you are about to do, how does it feel as you lie down on your mat). You are also more aware of your breath (is it shallow, short, deep, subtle?). All of these are key to start your yoga practice so you know how you feel initially and what is going on within your body and mind.
Then of course after these quiet moments of preparation when you open your eyes the journey of yoga develops as you explore further your body and mind and breath on your magic carpet…
Of course you still observe and be aware of your Self as you practice, keeping a mindful eye this time on how your body, mind and breath are in the postures. When you are holding postures you close your eyes again and take yourself inwards and observe the changes as you have been practicing or how you feel in that moment in the posture. Is your body opening, your “heart” expanding, your mind becoming quieter and your breath synchronising with your postures? Your practice will develop and evolve.
Towards the end of your journey on your magic carpet, you close your eyes again to do final relaxation at the end of the class. This is the time to observe the difference within and without from when you started the practice to how it is coming to an end. How is your energy, your thoughts and have you let go? Has the union of body and mind and breath bought you to a place of peace and harmony…? I hope so!
And as you open your eyes at the end of your practice, really open your eyes to how marvellous you, yoga and your yoga mat are!
Michelle Cross teaches Hatha Yoga and is passionate about assisting people to find their own Yoga within, leading to health, wellness and abundant happiness.