Photo courtesy of SCAL
Yesterday morning, in anticipation of a work snow day or at least a delayed opening, I went to yoga an hour later than usual. For me, “the usual” means that I’m one of the first students there, right at 6:00 AM. Being there this early allows me to stroll into work before the hour at which they dock my pay, but it also secures my favorite spot to roll out the mat: close to the middle of the room and next to a support column (in the photo above, that perfect spot is just this side of the left post). I became overly attached to this spot early on in my practice. That pillar became a security blanket for balancing postures, a way of hiding from the teacher and the other students, and more recently, a safe place to tuck my glasses once I pull them off my sweaty face.
But yesterday’s late arrival landed me and my Manduka way at the far end of the room. Not being in or near my normal place threw me off balance. But ultimately I found myself moving through the practice more smoothly and I noticed several things:
- In general, I felt like I had much more energy throughout the practice. (Okay, so that vim was pretty much gone by the time I got to assisted back bends. But isn’t that why those old yogis added the “assisted” adjective? Because your teacher is going to assist your tired butt up off of the floor?)
- I warmed up more quickly – perhaps because of the heat that had already been generated in the room during the first hour?
- My right knee didn’t hurt in “half lotus forward fold” (Ardha Badha Padmottanasana) – maybe also because I was more warmed up?
- But most noticeable was that I did the best “extended hand to big toe” pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana) ever! I wasn’t wobbly at all and I moved easefully through all three parts of the posture without ever feeling like I was going to tip over. I was so happy with myself that I mindlessly completed the next few postures while trying to figure out what was different. The answer was in my drishti.
The drishtis are where you direct your gaze during each yoga posture. Having a drishti is supposed to allow you to focus, become stable, and ultimately stay balanced in each posture. Sometimes the drishti is your hand, sometimes it’s your naval, and sometimes it’s the end of your nose. There are a bunch more but I can’t think of them all right now.
I tend to lose my balance in “hand to big toe” posture. I’ve often related the level of imbalance to the number of martinis I’d sipped on the night before. But I think I’ve been wrong. I think it’s because in my normal yoga spot, there’s more activity and more likelihood that someone is going to walk or move through my drishti.
Never mind that a drishti is supposed to be an internal vs. an external thing. And never mind that it’s meant to keep your attention on what you’re doing so that you don’t get distracted by what others are doing. If you walk in my drishti, I’m going to lose my balance.
Oh wait. Maybe this is yet another hint from the universe that I should remove my glasses for the entire practice? If my drishti is blurry to begin with, maybe someone else’s movement won’t mess me up. Or, maybe this whole thing is just yet another lesson in non-attachment (as most everything in life seems to be). Maybe tomorrow I should try both a new yoga spot AND no glasses?