Our teacher for the evening was Shakthi Paramasivam. I went into the class not knowing what to expect. We were told the class would be two hours, so I was prepared for an intense physical class that would leave me too sore to practice for a couple of days.
Instead, our practice was much more focused on the mind. Sure, we did poses. And Shakthi showed us some great tips for stronger downward facing dogs, warrior poses, and half-moons.
The bigger focus, however, was on calming the chatter, letting go of unneeded thoughts, and centering. This is by far the biggest challenge for me. Since beginning to practice yoga, I’ve found myself able to do poses I never thought I’d be capable of doing. I see the changes in my body. But the ultimate goal of yoga is about quieting the mind and reaching a higher state of enlightenment. In yoga, they call this “calming the monkey mind.”
Truthfully, I see less progress for myself in this area. Yes, there are times when my focus doesn’t extend past my mat. But this is usually during a particularly tough flow or a challenging pose. The daily chatter of to-do lists and schedules is gone, but in it’s place are thoughts like “Pull your core in.” “Straighten your legs more.” “Don’t fall out of headstand.”
What I’ve found is that being able to calm the mind is a continuum, both in where you practice and in yourself. I started practicing yoga at Fitworks and I’ll still occasionally take a class there. In my experience, these classes are almost entirely focused on the body. The teacher even tells people they are free to leave during savasana and many do.
At Nishkama Yoga, where I regularly practice now, the focus is more heavily on the mind, with things like meditation and extended time in savasana. But there is still plenty of focus on the body.
In Shakthi’s class, I felt the balance tip even more heavily toward the mind. People will say that savasana is the hardest pose because being still and calming our minds is a true challenge. I get the sense that Shakthi is perpetually in savasana: perpetually calm and centered and in that moment only.
While personally, I think the focus on both mind and body I’ve found at Nishkama works best for me, I also think I could gain a lot of ground in calming my mind by practicing with Shakthi every now and then. Thanks to Shakthi for a great experience and to Jessa for making it happen!
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a private yoga session with Shakthi at no cost. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***