Monday, January 23, 2012

Eyes Wide Shut

We did ardha chandrasana last week.  Against the wall.  Most of my students are older and the strength and balance needed to hold the pose in the center of the room take it off the menu for them.  It’s such a great pose, that’s it’s a shame to eliminate it, so we do it against the wall and it becomes a release pose.  Really, it does, you should try it.

Against the wall, it’s all the extension and expansion of Hand-to-Big-Toe--a lengthening, a stretch, a core/thigh engagement with a comforting presence at the back, except in Half-Moon you have a bit more of a gravity challenge, but not too much.  Once every one gets past the “tipping-over” fear, it’s really quite nice.

People closed their eyes.  

I love to close my eyes during a pose.  To remove one more distraction and turn the focus inward.  You have to really know where you stand when you close your eyes, because you lose all visual information that might assist balance.  You have to depend on your sense of touch, maybe hearing, but sight is gone and the brain has to focus on the limited input to keep you in the pose.  So you focus on the limited input and, as a result, your sense of the pose sharpens and you really feel it.  And it starts to make more sense because you perceive the arrangement of your limbs from the inside, instead of just seeing what it looks like.  

(Technically this is proprioception--a really interesting neural phenomenon in which the brain uses muscle and inner ear/balance information to determine the body’s position in space rather than sight--why you know your back arm is at shoulder height in Warrior II, without looking at it)

Emotionally, it feels like flying.  As you remove one sense, the others intensify to fill the void...without the visual you float, without falling (once you get used to it).  Anyway, I highly recommend it for Mountain, Tree, Headstand, Down Dog, Triangle.  You need to feel safe and supported, confident in your skill, but the rewards are lovely.  

“See” you at the wall...

10 comments:

Lisa B. Minn said...

Yes! Whenever I have a smaller class and enough wall space, I try to remember to teach this pose. And of course, viparita karani... the ultimate wall pose :)

Eco Yogini said...

i am a fan of half moon- although it's been a pose in the workings for quite some time. I'm not a fan of closing my eyes though... my brain also uses visual info as well as my semi circular canals to tell me where i am in space! :)

Stephanie said...

Hi, I just found you blog and is so easy to read and fun. I love taking yoga classes. I subcribed in my google reader.

Sara said...

What do you recommend for warming up for this pose? By that I mean, how do you get your students' bodies ready? Thanks you.

Marina J said...

If you are a beginner, keep your left hand on your hip and look forward in a neutral position. If you have done this pose before and have found a good balance, reach your left arm up towards the ceiling, opening the chest and making a straight line with the right and left arms.
Yoga Pants for Women

Brenda P. said...

Sara,
This is an ancient post, but the suggestions are good ones. The prep for Half-moon is similar to Triangle (hip-opening, lengthening side ribs, warming shoulders) and I often use Triangle as the lead-in pose to Half-Moon. I hope it helps!
http://groundingthruthesitbones.blogspot.com/2006/11/its-hip-to-betriangular.html

Lisa,
I once read (Light on Yoga?) that viparita karani is supposed to help prevent the onset of gray hair. I haven't noticed that benefit--still fab, nonetheless.

Sara said...

Thanks, Brenda!

Lady Lazarus said...

I love closing my eyes during poses. It really centers and grounds me in the internal momentum of my body and what is going on in the present. I love it.

Shawna said...

Closing your eyes does feel like flying :) I love pumping the music up in my living room and going through a whole flow "eyes wide shut" totally getting lost in it all. Lovely post!

Hatha Yoga said...

Great read! I am glad that I landed here and got some amazing information here. Thank you for the worthy sharing.