Silent Yoga Class

Written by Mira Saraf.

Yoga is meditation. Meditation, is often by definition, silent. Therefore it has often struck me that teaching yoga in a class format is slightly odd, because instead of silence you are focusing on spoken words.

corpse pose

When only two other people show up to my noon Wednesday yoga class, a vote is taken to do a silent class. This means the instructor practices with us, and makes a "ch" sound every time we are to change postures. It is my first silent class and I am a little nervous; unsure of what to expect. The room is eerily quiet, the only sounds you can hear are the gurgling of the humidifiers and the breathing of the four practicing yoginis. It is hot, but not scorching. This is a relief to me as I am forced to position myself far away from any of the cooling fans, my oases in the desert that is the yoga room.

The pranayama breathing is a thing of beauty. We are all in sync, our combined energy guides us to powerfully move in and out of postures as one. However, when the warm up first begins, I feel a sense of self-consciousness. Every sound, crack in your joints, sneeze, and cough all feels so much more exaggerated in this void, this large empty space. I wonder briefly if our instructor feels any bias to rush through her least favourite postures since she is actually practicing with us. She appears to maintain her timing.

I feel shame at the thought of slacking off in a posture with the lack of watchful eyes correcting form and effort. This feeling is most intense in eagle pose. I hate eagle pose; it is probably my least favorite hatha yoga posture. As hard as I press my ankle into my calf muscle, and as much as I move my upper body back, I cannot rid myself of the most horrible sensation of burning pain along my thighs. Unlike other postures, this never seems to get better. Today I do not want to be the only one to fall out so I squeeze my thighs together, feeling the throbbing in my lower body and praying for it to be over. I breathe through the pain. When it is finally over I take a small sip of water feeling relief at the end of one of my most dreaded postures.

After the balancing series I start to daydream. Unconsciously, my mind feels free to wander in the silence. I soldier it back into focus. Finally it is time for spine strengthening. I am looking forward to cobra pose, as I realized a day earlier I have been doing it incorrectly since I returned from the Holidays. No real reason, just put my hands in the wrong spot and forgot where they should have been. With my newly correct form, I am excited to conquer this pose. In yoga this is always a mistake. In the first set I forget to breath and am quite out of breath during the whole posture. The second set isn't much better. Bow, another one I usually do well with, is also a struggle. This is the thing with yoga it grounds you, it humbles you. You can never claim mastership over the posture, only mastership over yourself.

We are in camel some time later. I have a love/hate relationship with camel pose. Although I do well with it in this class, I feel my heart pounding in my chest and my head spinning as I rush to get back into savasana. Suddenly there are only two postures left. How quickly this has gone by. I am in final savasana, when I realize how much harder I pushed, and how much more aware I was of my breath and where it was lacking. I wonder I have not experienced this in a year and a half of practice, until today. Then I remember on New Years Eve I picked prosecco and hors d'oeuvres over the silent Bikram yoga.

If I could go back in time, to be honest, I would probably make the same decision. However, it made me realize the true meditative value of yoga. Forcing my focus on my practice and my breath helped me push beyond my limits and experience something truly new and beautiful. I would recommend a silent class for anyone that has the opportunity to try. It never hurts to get out of your comfort zone once in a while; you can only grow from it.

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