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Bringing Focus Back

Posted by terrepruitt on June 9, 2015

About a month ago I was in a yoga class and afterwards there were a few people who were telling the person that was a couple of mats away from me how great her poses were.  They were going on about how beautiful she looked.  I felt bad.  I felt like an awful person for not even noticing how wonderful this fellow student was.  She was so wonderful that a few people came over to tell her.  Every class I have taken since then has me questioning that.  I started thinking I should be looking around and paying attention to other people’s poses.  I realized that I am really focused on myself when I am in a yoga class.  Sometimes I open my eyes and I am surprised there are other people in the class.  The last few classes I took I started looking around.  I started noticing what other people were doing.  I was thinking that I needed to be more attentive to the other students so I could pat them on the back when they did well.  But then I realized that looking around and watching what other people are doing is what I do when I teach.  When I take a class it is perfectly fine for me to let the students fade into the background.  When I am in a yoga class I NEED to be focused on me.

When I am instructing a class I am demonstrating a pose.  I am IN the pose, but I am not really DOING the pose.  I am not focused on the pose, I am focused on looking at the class.  I am focused on seeing if they are doing the pose.  I am thinking about how to gently guide them into the proper alignment.  I am thinking about what to say that will allow them to sense what they are doing.  Everyone says they want to be instructed on how to do it right, but no one wants to be the sole recipient of all the instruction.  So sometimes, general instructions is best.  I am thinking about all of that while I am in the poses.

At times I will step out of a pose to walk around the class to see the students posture from different angles.  I walk around to see if they are in alignment and to help someone with the pose.  So I am not really doing yoga.  I am not focusing on me, I am not focusing on my breath, I am not paying strict attention to sensation in the poses.

So when I am in a yoga class, I don’t look around.  I soften my gaze so I don’t really see my fellow classmates.  I allow myself to be the student and not look at others’ alignment.

I have been thinking about this for about a month now.  I was trying to figure out a post for today, when I came across “No Peeking!” and it reminded me of peeking around in a yoga class.  When I look around and pay too much attention to others when I am a student, I sometimes lose sense of what I am doing.  It could be that I see the person three over from me doing the pose “better than” me, so I try to go deeper (or higher . . . whatever the case may be) and then I am not listening to my body and what it needs at that moment.  No Peeking was about competitive swimming and how when you look around to see where you are in the race you move your head, which changes your body position, which changes the outcome of the race.  While yoga is not a race, when I look around whether the movement changes my pose or my thought process changes the pose, the outcome is adjusted.

Hmm.  I am going to keep that in mind.  And get back to my focus.  If I don’t complement your beautiful poses when we are in a yoga class, don’t take offense.  Now, Nia is entirely different.  While dancing you are tuned into your body, but there is also a sense of sharing and sometimes even stealing.  If you see someone doing something you want to try, have at it.

Are you completely focused in your yoga class?  Do you get motivated by looking at others?  Does looking at others distract you?

2 Responses to “Bringing Focus Back”

  1. Louiza said

    Hi Terre!

    I find that the only time in my life that I feel totally focused is in my yoga class when I’m in my asana and focusing on the actions of my body. Time stops here. Being a student is the best part of practicing yoga. A teacher guides you through a sequence. A teacher will give instruction as how to move into a pose. A yoga teacher will give you an action to work on while you are in the pose. This action will keep you focused until you get totally lost in it. A teacher will adjust you and remind you to come out of your pose. It’s about surrender to your teacher to your pose and to God.

    Being human the eyes will wonder. I don’t necessarily look at anyone’s pose on purpose to see how well this person is doing when I’m in my asana. for example our teacher says Utthita Trikonasana and we all jump our feet apart and turn our feet and legs. We extend and we wait for the action words. She will come and adjust the person in front of me. Her hands do magic as she brings the students shoulder blades together and guides them into the chest. The students alignment changes, the heart opens, the breath changes. As I witness all this I feel imaginary hands on my back that move the skin, the flesh, the muscles and the bones of my upper back and my pose changes my breath as well. Im in unison with the student in front of me. This I consider yoga. Union between teacher, students, body mind and breath.

    The compliments on the other hand are not necessary because they bring us out of our union. It’s a separation. Good and not so good. There is duality in a compliment.

    Thank you and lots of love,



    • Thank you! Yes, the teacher can do all that! And yes, the eyes wander. But for me, I don’t register much about the person, I just acknowledge they are there, but I like to remain focused on what I am doing. I have not taken an Iyengar class and I have not been witness to many “hands on adjustments”. I love that you witness an adjustment and sense it too! I have LISTENED while someone is being coached (and it could have been applying to me too) and make any adjustments that I might recognize need being done.

      The compliments are lovely. The people giving them feel good as do the people receiving them. And I am allowing myself permission and forgiveness to not be a part of them. Being a student is so sacred to me, I will just allow myself to focus on just me and what I am doing.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It is always a pleasure. XO


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