Sometimes, a themed class just happens. I've been teaching a lot this past week, since quite a few Just Be teachers are either enjoying the yoga festival in Tahoe, Wanderlust, or in Costa Rica for a retreat. This has definitely been an amazing opportunity for me and my teaching to develop, as I've never taught so many consecutive classes. I usually have a bit of time between teaching gigs to develop possible themes, good music, and creative sequencing, but I can usually have a few fallbacks on standby that I know will make a well-rounded class. However, when I'm teaching daily, and at the same times, I'm met with quite a few familiar faces, and the pressure is on to keep things fresh. This week has really pushed my creativity, and I'm loving it. It's making teaching feel much more natural, and proving my own abilities to myself and others.
One of the classes I taught this week, I went into pretty blind. I had a decent sequence in my head, a generic playlist, and no theme. In grounding, I gave the generic class intention of staying present on the mat, dedicating the practice to someone who needs it, keeping it all about you, etc, etc, etc. It wasn't a disaster, but it definitely didn't land quite right. It didn't have the natural flow to it that my teaching had been enjoying recently, and it kind of took me off guard. I shoved any doubtful thoughts out of my head, however, and started the class off with some sun salutations.
As I was teaching, I noticed something about the class. They all seemed to be looking around: at one another, at the room, at me, at anything. I recognized this from my own practice, looking around for a distraction from what's going on inside (mentally or physically). So after one round of Sun B's, I held the class in down dog and said, "Now that you've felt the movements in your body, you're going to go through the next few rounds with your eyes shut. You know how it feels, now really feel it. Experience it."
Credit to the class- this probably seemed pretty weird, and maybe even like I was asking too much of them, but they all did it. Every single one trusted in the process and my guidance, and stepped up to the challenge with confidence. There was a newfound shakiness in the postures and the flow, but so much more intention and dedication. With every round, I could see their fluidity return, and their breath became so much more powerful. As a class, they were moving and breathing together, even without seeing one another. It was this beautiful contrast between individuality and community that added an entirely new element to the experience.
So for the rest of the class, each time a new flow sequence was introduced, we'd go through it once with our eyes open, and then continue on with eyes shut, in order to move from a place of sensation- not one of comparison or expectation. It was a challenge, I could tell from the few one-eyed peaks during balancing postures or the stumbling, but everyone saw the power it had, and everyone would come right back into what they fell out of.
The theme evolved out of this, and as the class rested in child's pose after the peak, I snuck over to my phone to look up a quote I'd heard from Helen Keller: "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."
Today, we are constantly inundated with images. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TV...the list goes on. But while we can see so much, we often lose sight of what's truly important. We scramble for phones to snap pictures of sunsets, pause experiences for a photo op, and ignore loved ones to scroll through our newsfeed. That's not truly seeing, nor is it really letting ourselves feel. Sometimes we need to take a moment to close our eyes and reconnect with what's going on inside, and shut out what's distracting us from living life to its fullest.
When you have a true vision, a concept of a life you want to live it happens within you, not to you.
You can see a vision with your eyes closed.