“Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.” -Patti Smith, Just Kids
Theme: Citta Vritti Nirodhah
Citta vrtti nirodhah roughly translates to restrictions of the fluctuations of consciousness. We took a look at our consciousness – citta – a few weeks back. Now we consider how our yoga helps us to stop the mind chatter, the influences that seek to throw us off course both externally and internally. Inevitably, when we engage with other humans, we begin to become influenced by their opinions, ideas and emotions which have the ability to mutate our perceptions and create distractions within our mind. Our yoga practice teaches us to cut out the noise and avoid falling into the trap of deception. When our mind is clear, we have the ability to move with more fluidity, avoiding the hurt and pain of taking things personally.
Align/Flow Classes: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Upward-facing Dog is often a pass-through pose. We may move through this pose without really giving it any attention at all. Why has this become a passing pose? I don’t really have an answer for that, but I do think as humans, we naturally just repeat what we see others do, following and forming patterns. That in itself can be a distraction, and we work this week to cut out the distractions. So as we move in and out of urdhva mukha svanasana, can we take a moment of pause in this pose to see how it feels? Notice if past habits distract you and try to pull you through quickly – can you elongate the breath, create space in the collarbones, and feel into the expansion? If this pose isn’t for you, low cobra or sphinx (keeping the thighs or forearms on the ground) are great alternatives. You can also place blocks under the thighs or a bolster under the low belly to help sustain this position for longer.
Restorative Classes: Karnapidasana
Deaf man’s pose is a fairly literal representation of citta vrtti nirodhah. We literally use the physical body to help cut off physical sensation and distraction, so that we may have a deep inner awareness, be it of the breath or something below the surface. This pose is hard though, and may not be comfortable to hold for a long time. We literally fold the body in half while lying on our backs, squeezing the ears with our knees – sound crazy? Yah it kinda is. A few alternatives to try instead: take legs up the wall and place a towel over the eyes, use your hands to cup the ears; take happy baby and cushion your head with a blanket to cradle and block the ears; try just sitting in hero’s pose with your eyes closed and your hands cupping the ears. Wherever you are, try to cut off your senses, block out the physical distractions, and hone into the deepest parts of yourself.