Friday, June 22, 2007

Silence as a Living Tool

I’ve been editing another article for Yoga Journal’s My Yoga Mentor newsletter; this one is titled “Silence as a Teaching Tool.” It talks about the importance of including quiet in a yoga class so that students have time to experience the poses without a lot of external distraction. I interviewed Cyndi Lee, Rama Berch and Joan White. Each had many interesting things to say and I had to cut a lot out of my initial story so it was short enough.

I think the theme of the article is a good one for everyday life, as well. All three teachers emphasized the need to decompress after a day full of sirens, car horns, yakking strangers (and familiars) and just the general noise of life. They also pointed out that it can be very scary to be quiet, because then it is just you and your thoughts, without any distractions.

Joan White asked the rhetorical question, “Why do you need to fill the space with talk?”—which I think is an astute observation. What is so threatening about just being quiet? Why do people need to turn on the TV or music as soon as they walk into a quiet house? When there are lulls in the conversation, does some body always jump in to fill the space (well, at a cocktail party, yes, but what about a chat between close friends)? Even music during yoga practice can be distracting, if you are trying to go really deep.

My suggestion is to try and include a bit more silence into your everyday life—even just 15 or 20 mins. a day. I think it’s healthy to confront the voices in your head (or, even better, learn how to turn them off) and just let the natural sounds of your environment be your accompaniment. I suspect it will improve your power of concentration and should give you a nice sense of peace. You may notice something about your world, or yourself, that you hadn’t noticed when it was hidden by all the noise. It’s not easy—and I’ve been working on it for awhile (especially the quieting the voices, part)—but it is a worthwhile endeavor. Let me know how it goes and if you have any suggestions! ©Brenda K. Plakans. All Rights Reserved

6 comments:

Cupcakes & Yoga said...

This made me think of Savasana. I find that I have a better Savasana at the end of class when the instructor shuts off the music as oppose to times when music is left playing. Even though I may still hear traffic noise from outside, I seem to find more gratification in the moment without music.

brendan.stallard@gmail.com said...

Brenda,

Yer smack on with the silence. That article contained some of the best advice I've ever seen in a Yoga magazine.

brendan (atlanta)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this information! Not too long ago I received criticism for being too chatty. No excuse but, I think it came from my practice of teaching Pilates which NEEDS lots of verbal input to properly perform the exercise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your YJ online article and am glad I was led to it. While I have never had feedback that I talk too much, I often catch myself in class talking just to fill that space...

I agree wholeheartedly that sitting in silence regularly brings much inner peace and greater awareness. Now if I can just think of ways to be more succinct as I teach :)

CN

Pat said...

There is a non-stop-chatter yoga teacher I sometimes go to. Is there an appropriate way to broach this topic w/her?

Melissa said...

Thanks for reminding me that continual talk isn't necessary. As a teacher, I need to remember that silence is a part of being still.