Internal Compass

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, your teacher probably gave you some cues along the way to help you in your practice. Some common ones are tightening your abs to create stability in balances, engaging your pelvic floor for a firmer foundation in a pose, etc. The idea behind most cues is to add dimension to your experience of the poses, but also to remind you that you have a vast reservoir of strength and grace within you already, and your teacher is only there to help you find it. Most of yoga is a practice designed to calm the storm of our lives enough to have space to search for the anchor we have within.

An uncommon cue that points to the anchor within most directly is that the advanced version of any pose is simply done with your eyes closed. It’s easiest to balance when you find a focal point somewhere on the wall, or dristi, but when you have no visual reference at all, balancing is extremely difficult. Even some of the most practiced yogis have a hard time with Warrior 1 with their eyes closed. It’s humbling because even the simplest pose you’ve done dozens of times becomes nearly impossible. We try to hold onto our visual orientation as we close our eyes, but find that only after a lot of practice, and a lot of falling over, are we able to maintain balance.

When we were all called to stay home, a similar phenomenon happened. With many of us running at a steady clip of work/gym/eat/sleep and repeat, the focus became keeping up rather than enjoying the pace. My clients always told me that they would come in more often if they had the time- imagine now, with all the time in the world, what it was like when you had to cram an hour massage into your schedule. You might be longing for those days, and it is totally okay to miss them. But we must acknowledge just how attached we are to that rhythm, and how much we use our schedules as a way to maintain our bearings. Predictably, there has been a ceremony of schedule filling in reaction to this sudden boon of time- making brodo, kettlebell exercises. But filling all the empty space with a self imposed schedule puts you at risk of missing the magic that might happen if you let it. So if you haven’t yet, I would challenge you to simply let your discretionary time stay open for a few days. Give yourself time to get reacquainted with who you are without your social calendar or commute to work. Being in a space of silence is unusual for a lot of us, so if you’re uncomfortable that’s okay- this is all just practice.


– Colleen Jenkins, Staffwriter