Monday, June 22, 2015

In the World of Wellness: Four Senses Yoga

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" in those ways and also as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you. Being more informed = better decisions for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Find a new perspective with Four Senses Yoga
The other day I went to a rather unusual yoga class called Four Senses Yoga. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I went in with an open mind. I have to admit I was significantly surprised when I realized our teacher, Cindy, was blind and that her plan was to make us "blind" as well. How exactly would we do this? Wouldn't we all fall over and hit each other in the faces with our swooping arm motions and warriors poses? If nothing else, I thought to myself, this will be an interesting class.

I got far more than interesting, though. I got a new perspective.

Each person in class was instructed to back their yoga mats up to the wall and spread out a bit. This ensured none of the aforementioned hitting or falling over would occur. Then, Cindy gave each of us a blindfold to put over our eyes, thus creating equality among the class while establishing a true four senses experience. To complete the setting she added a few key sounds. Throughout the room, the sound of rain emerged, partnered with a rain stick that each of us were to play with for a bit before passing it on to the next person.

All of this together gave us several key components: The rain not only forced our sense of hearing to expand, as we had to hear both it and her instructions, but it also helped bring a sense of calm to the room. The rain stick expanded our sense of touch, and because we were all blindfolded communication was our only method of passing the stick to one another, thus making us truly contemplate the best method by which to address each other.

The hour long session encompassed sitting postures, a few warriors poses, chair pose, and several other simple stretches. "Simple" normally, of course. Slightly more complicated when you can't see anything.

It was one of the best experiences of my whole yoga life.

The first thing I experienced was the feeling of fear. I've contemplated what it would be like to loose my sight or speech or hearing, and while I'd prefer to never lose any of those, losing my sight is by far the most terrifying of them all for me. However, because this was nothing more than an experience, gratitude was the next feeling that swept over me. A sincere and deep thankfulness for the ability to use all of my senses.

What came next is my favorite part. It's the reason I'm writing about this today. The reason I hope all of you find a way to give yourself this same experience.

The next thing I felt was release.

When you can't see anyone, and in this case, when no one can see you either, your entire perspective on life changes.

It no longer matters what you look like. In turn, it also doesn't matter what other people look like. If you're fat or thin or hairy or wrinkly- none of that matters. Judgement of one another based on looks- gone. Comparisons of how well your yoga pose is or how you physically rank compared to someone else vanishes. Nothing - not your hair or makeup or even your clothes - matters.

If your butt looks funny in this pose or if your stomach is sticking out in that pose, who cares? No one can see you. You can't even see you. All you care about is how you feel. Instead of wondering if these yoga pants make you look fat, you instead wonder if your body feels good. You begin to experience something along the lines of euphoria for simply having a body that can do the things you're doing with it.

For once, truly, without having to force your brain to shut down these thoughts that plague our society, you can just let them go. For one hour you are free. This is something else you realize- how much time in life is wasted on the overinflated value we put on looks. On judgement. On comparing ourselves through image, lifestyle, so on and so forth.

If only we could bottle this beautiful experience of not caring about genuinely stupid things. Imagine how much better each and every person in the world would feel. How much happier we could be when we're not held back by thought patterns that run a muck in our minds.

Being blind vs. blindfolded is obviously incredibly different. Due to that, I'm sure life perspectives are different as well. I am sincerely grateful to Cindy for giving me this gift and for sharing her everyday experience with me in the best way possible. I have an enormous amount of respect for her and the amazing lessons she's teaching.

I hope one day the whole word will be able to let go of the pressure we put on ourselves for all of the wrong reasons. I hope that in the place of valuing youth over age, looks over personality, quality of clothes over quality of character, we find ourselves living in a world that values kindness, compassion, and acts of good work. I hope one day we build a better world because we have become better people.

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