I was intrigued to read an article in The Daily Telegraph at the end of January headline entitled,
“Hot yoga, naked yoga, dog yoga – now switch on to dark yoga”
which is apparently increasing in popularity in London as part of a wider trend for exercising in unusual environments. It started by asking whether this was another novelty trend, but suggested that
“where the capital goes the rest of the UK will follow”.
has already been here in Twyford for quite a while and is very much alive in my Thursday evening yoga class. We have, I freely admit, been practising “dark yoga”, and I am not talking about black magic or the dark arts, but yoga by candlelight! I suspect that we are not the only group outside the metropolis that is subscribing to this practice!!
For the uninitiated, going to a yoga class is not just about exercise. In Hatha yoga, we are using our body as a tool and, by connecting with our breath, we are looking to bring together the body and the mind and, through meditation, to connect with our inner self, to find who we truly are. To a greater or less extent, we all have that little voice in our heads telling us what it thinks we should be doing. Through stretching and strengthening the body and breathing better, which in itself brings health benefits (physical, mental and emotional), yoga helps us quieten that little voice, so that we can reach within, get to know ourselves better and tap into our true, real self, which is hidden under the layers of the personality we have constructed for ourselves.
Yoga by candlelight is enjoyable and beneficial for lots of reasons:
- It means we can turn off the harsh glare of electric lights that guide our way in the physical world to enable us to start to retreat within.
- Many of us are very competitive and it is often too easy in a class to watch what someone else is doing, to think they are right or better than us and that how we move is somehow wrong or incorrect.
- Yoga is not about competition, either with others or, indeed, with ourselves (it’s that little voice in our own heads again which are seeking to tame!). In the candlelight, we cannot see everyone else clearly and they cannot see us.
- This helps us let go of feelings about our shape and size, whether our clothing is appropriate and any worries about our perceived levels of flexibility, strength, etc.
The list is endless; I know, because I’ve been there and it really doesn’t help!
We can use candlelight to help us focus as we move through a class. Without distractions, we can focus on being guided through our practice, connecting with breath and being open to whatever happens in that moment.
As individuals, yoga enables us to get to know our bodies and minds better and this can help us on our journey through life. From The Daily Telegraph’s article, it is clear that I am not the only one who has concluded practising yoga in a candlelit, secure space is wonderful for its calming and focusing properties. Like in life, the flickering of a candle can provide flickering glimpses of our own inner self and the potential we can bring to our lives if we only allow ourselves to find them.
© Sarah Swan (February 2016)