I teach two gentle yoga classes. Gentle yoga doesn’t necessarily mean beginner yoga. It can if the class is a beginner yoga class, but “gentle” doesn’t mean beginner. The way I make the yoga class gentle is we don’t hold the poses for a long time. We also don’t flow through a long combination of poses. I usually do a sequence of two, three poses at the most, but the class is not a flow. In my two regularly scheduled gentle yoga classes we actually just stop and get down (or stop and get up) because I feel that being able to get up off of the floor is very important. We don’t use downward facing dog, forward folds, planks, or poses to get down and up. We go at a comfortable pace slowly moving through poses. The classes are not beginner classes because I have been teaching some of the same students for years. So they are not beginners. They know many poses and they know what their bodies should be doing in those poses, but they like to do yoga gently. But we still need to add some challenge to some of the poses. So, for a small group of students in my gentle yoga classes we have added a challenge to one of the poses that they have down. For those that can balance fine, we have added the challenge of closing our eyes.
We are still doing the pose, but we close our eyes to add to the pose. Just the simple act of closing our eyes causes us to get a little wobbly and therefore work more at standing upright. Just like with our eyes open one side is easier than the other. But this simple act gives the pose a new spin.
The inner ear plays a huge role in our balance, but so do our eyes. Once we take vision out of the equation it makes balancing more challenging. I believe practicing balancing with our eyes closed will allow us to get better at it over time. While we are practicing we will be using those stabilizing muscles and that will help us be better balanced. Just as practicing balance with your eyes open.
This is a fun thing to add to the balance practice because, as I said, my students can do this pose well, so it is kind of surprise that just closing one’s eyes makes it as if they can’t do the pose. There are some “whoas” and “what the . . ” and giggles because it is just so funny that a pose we can do all of a sudden we can’t do it (as well).
For now we are only closing our eyes when doing the Stork pose, but once we have that down AND have more stability in some of our other balances poses we will add “eyes closed” to them.
So if you come to one of my regularly scheduled yoga classes you might experience this. If you come to one I am subbing, I usually do things a little differently. That is one thing that is so great about teaching yoga, it can be adjusted and modified so it is not always the same. With the adjustments and modifications, hopefully, they are helping you improve your stability, flexibility, and strength. Sometimes all it takes is something so simple as closing your eyes.
Did you try it? Just standing with your eyes closed? How about standing on one leg with your eyes closed?