I was annoyed and generally in a pretty un-yogi mindset this morning, and when that happens it’s always really difficult to keep my mind from wandering when I’m practicing. So I decided to challenge myself with something different, I decided to go through my morning flow with my eyes closed.

I’ve read and been intrigued with the idea of yoga classes preformed while blindfolded, but have never tried to do more than a few poses without opening my eyes. Clearly this isn’t something a newbie should try, you need to be really familiar with the poses and how your body should be aligned.

It’s often said that where the breath (prana) goes the body follows and  vice versa — if you are on edge or upset, your breathing will be quick and shallow, to relax and calm the body, breath slow and deep. There are so many breathing exercises that we bring into yoga classes to calm or build heat.

But it’s also true that where your eyes go your mind follows–eyes wandering around the room looking at other people and objects? Your mind if probably wandering too. So then, with your eyes closed, your mind is drawn more inward and without the visual information to help you in the poses you are forced to focus more on your body and depend on your muscle memory –your mind is forced to be with your body in the present moment–there’s too much for it to do to wander or worry.

Aside from helping to focus my mind on my body and breathing, I found that doing 45 mins of yoga with my eyes closed helped me to take it less seriously. When you’ve been doing yoga for a long time you always want to go for the fullest expression of the pose, but I fell all over the place in tree with my foot on my inner thigh, so I rediscovered the pose with my foot on my calf, a version I haven’t done for years. Half moon pose? With my eyes open I feel steady and open, with my eyes closed I could barely stay up, but I enjoyed the falling and trying again, because I cut myself slack that I normally wouldn’t (“I should be able to do this”, “I’m not strong”, etc were all gone since I knew I was doing a wacky version)

I felt much better after my blind yoga, and I’m interested to try it again (perhaps with a blindfold so I really can’t peek). I think an whole other layer would be added in a blind yoga class–trust in the teacher and in the other students, and freedom to look silly in front of other people.

There’s a lot to learn when you close your eyes.