If you ever close your eyes while in a yoga pose you might feel one of two things: either wobbly and a bit unbalanced, or centered and enjoying the focus within. For some reason or other some days there is no way I can close my eyes in Warrior 2 because it makes me wobble. Other days however if feels soo good!
With my eyes closed on my good days I can go within and experience each pose and all it has to offer. I’m not however a great advocate for complicated or fast movement with the eyes closed. In fact vinyasa with eyes closed can be difficult and complicated. The way I like to do it is eyes open to get into the pose and make sure all the alignments are as they should be, that I’m in it as deep as is comfortable, and then close my eyes and breathe. Then from the stillness within I can feel the breath opening into all the little spaces in my body. I feel light and open and grounded and I find the longer I hold the pose the better the closed eye experience becomes.
The question of yoga with eyes open or closed however is quite subjective, and there are just as many advocates for open eye yoga as there are for closed eyes. One would think open eye yoga prevents the deepest kind of experience within the pose, but according to dedicated advocates of open eye yoga, the benefits far out way those of closed eyes. Their logic goes like this.
Imagine yourself in a busy noisy shopping centre jostled and nudged by the crowd and imagine how hard it would be to remain centered and relaxed amongst all of this. Now place yourself in a yoga class with lots of people to distract you, music playing, street noises and heat. When we practice with eyes open, the advocates say, we can work on developing the ability to be unaffected by all these distractions. Once we have gained this ability on the mat we can then start to find that calmness in any situation, even the busy shopping centre.
My suggestion is enjoy a little of both worlds in your yoga session. With eyes closed however be careful you aren’t feeling wobbly, and with eyes open don’t let yourself get distracted.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training