Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's in a gaze?




In Tadasana at the yoga workshop this past weekend at the Yoga Circle, esteemed Iyengar Yoga instructor, Lois Steinberg said something like: Gaze forward, just above the horizon line of your eyes.

And I was set free... It was after the numerous backbends. I was standing upright!

She also mentioned how some of us (like me--I thought to myself) have had a habit of looking down, and that cultivates depression. You don't say...

In fact, I have said to a class of yoga students: Do not look down. Do not follow me in this regard. I have a bad habit of looking down. I have known about it as you can see, but hadn't been able to correct myself in a way that has lasted. Until now...

I guess a lot of things were going on for me at this workshop, and one of the things I gained is my self respect. I am holding my head high.

As I am walking around I am looking forward, just above the horizon line of my eyes. I feel effective and competent with this directed gaze. I've taken this gaze into the classes I'm teaching, and into conversations I've had. It feels good!

A fearless gaze.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

10 comments:

YogaforCynics said...

Throughout much of my life, I've not only tended to look down, but my entire body's tended to hunch over so it just seems natural...and here I see the connection between opening up the chest and raising the gaze...

svasti said...

Sounds like a very beautiful moment, Brooks. Well done on obtaining your self-respect!

I was talking to another yoga teacher friend last night about depression, which tends to be about folding forward/closing in, and that slowly this needs to be replaced with open-hearted, open-chest asana.

Learning to look up, and also to make eye contact and not feel threatened seem very logical as well. :D

Y is for Yogini said...

Amazing -- work it out, girl! I love when the seemingly simple things we pick up turn out to be earthshaking gems. I've gathered a few of these from reading Donna Farhi and also in YTT, and my life and practice have been lifted to greater heights. Remember that you are fierce! xoxo :)

Christine Claire Reed said...

I've thought about this for many years.

It struck me one day that cathedrals are designed to make us look up, which instantly elevates one's mood.

Then I became a kundalini yoga practitioner. During KY, you look up through your third eye (eyes closed). This is not just mystical -- you are stimulating the pineal gland which regulates melatonin which regulates sleep/wake. Bad sleep and depression are like a chicken and an egg.

Good stuff.

Janice said...

Love this post Brooks and the comments here are so helpful and insightful too. Perhaps the answer to my question will seem obvious to everyone else, but what exactly is the "horizon line of our eyes"?

I also struggle with looking down, not making eye contact, seeming aloof, wanting to look away and, gosh, if I could just sit up straight!! I described my hunched over sitting position to my 5 year old daughter last night at dinner. I said I was "collapsed over my heart." She said, "are you dead?" I quickly retorted that I am not dead and then tried to sit up straight!

Laura Hegfield said...

:)

Jan said...

Upward invites even greater possibility than forward, doesn't it? Thanks for the insight and we all benefit from your self-respect....I felt it in class yesterday.

Moving Meditation said...

I've always felt so liberated in poses where we look up, but I've never really spent much time analyzing this. Thanks for the post, and thanks to all the commenters!

Swedish Yogagirl said...

Interesting, I tend to look down as well more than focuse my gaze forward.. sounds like it's pretty common too. Good insight and well done for yourself!

Lisa said...

Bravo!! I love this - and relate.

I wanted to share something this amazing friend once suggested - some of us were talking about this connection between tending to look down and depression, and she said "at home, why not put things you want to see high on the walls, nearer the ceiling, so your gaze is naturally pulled up." It could be anything, images, the art you have already, poems ...

Isn't she brilliant?