On being blind and free

By Helen Karlsen

What resonated with you most? That’s one of the questions in our final exam for teacher training at NPY. It’s an easy one for me to answer: Doing yoga blindfolded.

When Caroline gave each of us a length of thick black fabric, she warned us not to peek. We would be depriving ourselves of a very special experience, she said.

She was right. I have never felt so joyful during a practice. While it was challenging, because I had to use my muscles more consciously to avoid losing balance, it was also liberating.

The goal of yoga is to unite mind and body. An observance called pratyahara, meaning removal of the senses, is one way of taking us from the outside in. This is a journey to find the self.

Feeling poses from the inside out, moving intuitively and keeping focus solely on myself felt magical. Because the need for presence and focus was greater, the present moment became magnified. I was also much more in tune with my breath. The feeling and sound of my body moving through space was heightened too.

This was an opportunity to trust myself, find confidence from within and to realize that I am my own best teacher. The result was that I went much deeper into asanas. I was not the only one who remarked afterwards that I had achieved the deepest Half Pigeon of my life that night.

But the magic didn’t end when I took off the blindfold.. As a group, we were so moved by what we had felt that it was hugs all round. Some cried, some laughed, others were just amazed. I felt as if I had been transported somewhere inside myself and had been away for quite some time

As for the sleep I had when I got home, it was as deep as my Half Pigeon and equally enjoyable. What a night! 

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