Teacher's Blog: Stillness by Diana Delatour

When the teacher says “change” or “savasana” do you think “Great!  Time to fix my shorts, drink some water, wipe the sweat, get that hair out of my eyes?"  That’s what I always thought those few seconds between postures were for, rearranging.  The hardest part of class for me was to just be still.  I didn’t really know how to be still in any part of my life.  My mind was always racing, jumping from one thing to another.  Especially when confronted with a huge mirror, my impulse was always to “fix” something… being a Southern woman if they allowed lipstick in the yoga room I probably would have put some on between postures.  But one of the great things about this practice is that you learn you don’t need anything for that 90 minutes, just you, your mat, towel, and water.

Another of the great joys of yoga is that you really do learn, over time, to truly be still.  You realize that absolutely nobody is looking at you, and it doesn’t matter if your hair is sticking up or your face is dripping with sweat.  Everyone else is in the same boat.  And you have that glow, the beauty that comes from within, that is completely natural.  You don’t need to do a thing.

Sometimes we fidget by habit or out of anxiety.  It’s often unconscious, we aren’t even aware we are doing it.  Once you become aware of it, you can change that habit.  When you take that focus off of yourself, you can feel the energy of the other people in the room.  When the whole group is still together there is an amazing cohesion in the room that influences everyone.  If you are newer to the practice, set up in the back row so you can watch the advanced students.  Watch what they do, and more importantly watch what they don’t do.  Notice the lack of movement between postures.  It is part of the practice that you will learn over time.

The first couple of seconds after the posture are the most important time to be still.  Release the posture, take that first breath, and let your body absorb what you have just done.  If you have to move after that go ahead, but you may find you don’t want to.

Diana and her dog Roman

Diana and her dog Roman

When you learn to be still, you discover the amount of relaxation you can get in just a few seconds.  That is something that you can carry with you throughout your day.  You will develop the ability to access that level of relaxation at any time.

Even more challenging than keeping your body still is keeping your mind still.  Many people who have difficulty meditating in the traditional sense can achieve a state of meditation in the yoga room.  The postures are so challenging that your mind has to turn off for a few seconds at a time. You learn to set your thoughts/worries/distractions aside and focus your attention on what you are doing , or else you will fall out of the posture!  Once you achieve those few seconds of mental stillness you can build on them.  Try keeping your mind still during your savasanas.  Find one place on the ceiling to look at, let it almost hypnotize you.  Thoughts will want to creep into your mind, but just try to let them float on by.  Focus on what you are feeling, your blood flow, your breath, your heartbeat.

From the minute you walk into the yoga room, try to let all of your worries and concerns wait for you outside.  You can attend to them again after class, or who knows, maybe they will give up waiting for you and just leave!