Have you ever practiced yoga in the dark? I’m not aiming for a clever metaphor here. I literally mean in a dark room. Pitch black; where there is a period of time as you transition from light to dark when your vision is temporarily useless. Real darkness.
I recently tried this and had an epiphany. In those first few moments of blackout, I felt unsteady – not quite sure of my surroundings or how my body related to them. The darkness encompassed me like a womb. The familiar became unfamiliar. I felt disconnected from my body. I’m used to being able to see the position of at least one or two of my limbs. There, in the dark, that was impossible. Something else had to kick in for me to feel at all comfortable with this new experience.
After what seemed like forever, my eyes adjusted and I could just barely make out outlines of objects in the room and of myself. At least, I think I could. Honestly, I can’t say if I really saw them or if my mind was filling in the blanks based on what I was feeling. In those moments, my yoga poses bloomed from the inside out. My breath was full, emanating from the center of my chest. I felt more connected to my bandhas (energetic locks). I couldn’t see my alignment, but I could feel it. The expansion across my pelvis in Warrior II and the uprightness of my spine in ardha matseyandrasana all felt so much more visceral.
Unexpectedly, my body and mind were united. This temporary loss of sight resulted in vibrant illumination. The darkness became my beacon of light.
This was an inner eye opening – pun intended – experience and, while it may not be practical to practice in the dark, you might try a quick simulation. During your next practice, close your eyes from time to time. Feel your poses from the inside out. Connect with your own inner beacon.