‘Mummy are you asleep?’ My sleepy blearly eyed four-year old daughter asked.
It was still dark outside, I had crept downstairs earlier, leaving the family in the land of nod, to get my sacred time to do yoga.
‘No, love I’m not asleep.’ ‘Why are you eyes closed then?’ she said peering closely at me as I took reclined twist.
So, why do I close my eyes I thought…to go deeper, to get more connected, to retreat from external distractions, to allow myself to be present in the moment.
Recently I was invited to teach a part one and two of a yoga journey – classes which welcomes different styles and different traditions to yoga practitioners and a space for yoga teachers to share. My theme was part one practising with your eyes open part two repeating the same practice with your eyes closed.
As I introduced my theme for the two sessions, the room looked at me a bit bemused, the thought of doing their full practice with their eyes closed panicked them a bit, yet interestingly I had to remind them several times during the first part to keep their eyes open.
Afterwards they commented they didn’t realise how much they closed their eyes during their practice.
For part two, it wasn’t mandatory they closed their eyes, just an opportunity for them to play, explore and they did. Some said it was their best practice to date.
So why do we practice with our eyes closed? Try this and compare eyes opened/eyes closed.
Find a comfortable cross-legged sitting position in Sukhasana.
Bring your left hand on to your left knee.
Take your right arm up to be level with your shoulder and extend it out to the right.
With your eyes open twist to the right keeping your arm at shoulder levels.
Note where your right arm opens out to.
Staying in this position, close your eyes, take a breath and see if you can twist further.
Notice how it feels. Compare how far you went into the twist with your eyes open and closed.
Its fun also to try this again, and see if with your eyes open you can go as deep into the twist as you did with your eyes closed.
Play with it.
I invite you to take this gift with you off your yoga mat, letting it leave an imprint into your being. Remembering that when we encounter challenges in our lives and feel we can’t meet them, we can in fact achieve more, if we let go of external distractions, connect with our inner self and open up to possibilities.