I recently joined a yoga class on Salt Spring Island with Cathy Valentine and experienced the surprising and amazing practice of blindfolded yoga. I came to class expecting our regular 90 minute flow, and I was totally terrified at the prospects of a blindfolded class. How would I know which poses to do without the instructor upfront? How would I know that I was in time with everyone else? How would I balance or try an inversion without the ability to see? I was amazed to discover that not only were these fears unfounded, but that the practice of blindfolded yoga has many benefits which include improving focus, aiding in looking inward, examination of emotions and profound emotional release, as well as an overall grounding impact on the energy body.
Blindfolded yoga offers the benefit of improving your focus during yoga class. Yoga is ultimately about the path to the true self and discovering your authentic inner being. Going through the movements and motions of yoga may not be enough to bring this profound transformation if during yoga class your mind wanders from mat to mat, looking at the people around you, looking at their clothes, looking at how they hold poses, or any other type of thought or judgement that may pass through your mind during yoga class that is not about inner reflection. Blindfolded yoga can remove the external and visual stimuli that can exist in yoga classes, and help turn your attention inward.
With nothing to look at in yoga class, and only poses and transitions to focus on, blindfold yoga offers an opportunity to look inward and examine how each pose makes you feel. With nothing to look at, other than your internal world, you are forced to observe your mind, its patterns, and its reactions. As such, blindfolded yoga can help the mind slow down and calm down, and for the reflective student it can also open up the possibility of examining the feelings that poses may bring up during practice. In my own practice, blindfolded yoga has helped me notice feelings of fear that emerge whenever I feel too close to the ground or when I am inverted. It was helped me gain confidence that I will remain supported by the earth beneath me, and that I need to accept and allow whatever may come my way with the confidence that I will remain safe and stable.
Mala Beads for Your Blindfolded Practice
Once you’ve experienced blindfolded yoga, you may come to insights about areas where you would like to focus your attention for emotional or spiritual transformation. You can use mala beads to help you remember to work on this area during yoga or when you are off the mat. Personally, in my blindfolded yoga practice it became apparent that I needed to ground more often and to accept and allow life to flow without fear and with more trust. I created the Vriksa mala bracelet for my personal practice with these intentions in mind. I now wear my garnet mala beads regularly, in class and out of class, to keep me feeling connected to the Earth, grounded, stable, and secure. I used a tree of life guru as a symbolic reminder of the stability that comes from conscious connection to the ground.
I now practice blindfolded yoga regularly, especially when I need more inner reflection or grounding in my practice. On days when focus escapes me, and I find my mind wandering away in the middle of yoga class, I close my eyes during the practice to reconnect with my inner self. There may be a blindfolded yoga class in your area and if not, ask your regular instructor if they would consider designing a blindfolded flow to try one time in your class. If you decide to practice blindfolded on your own, remember that balancing is harder when you are blindfolded and a beginner flow that is slower with slow transitions and without inversions would be a safer start.