"Awesome, intense, amazing, wow, loved it, we should do it more often, incredible, I enjoy chatting before and after class so it was hard, I like to talk so I just talked to myself in my mind"......just some of the reactions to Monday nights Mouna/Vipassana inspired AWESOME "silent" yoga class. It really was an outstanding experience. Students entered the studio refraining from speaking to anyone. They rolled out their mats and quietly read a handout that I prepared for them, and sat in silent meditation. With the lights dim, and tea light candles illuminating the room, I briefly explained to them how the class would progress and guided their meditation. As the class progressed the yoga poses were held longer, collective consciousness was created by unison in movement, students were receptive and present.
People fail to realize that talking to others in class, talking to the teacher, talking to themselves, even the dialogue in the mind, are the blocks from the ultimate goal of the yoga practice of silencing the monkey mind. Also, it lacks respect to other students who may be there for a spiritual experience, and it can be disrespectful to the teacher. The darting curious eyes, the frustrated reactions from coming out of poses, the verbal and facial reactions, the egos rush to advanced poses without letting the pranayam initiate (without letting the breath initiate the movement), are our vritti's or agitations, that we need to dissolve.
Below is some of the information on the handout I prepared for students to read prior to class.
Welcome to a Vipassana inspired, Mouna Yoga practice. Vipassana is the practice of mindfulness in meditation, Mouna is silence, and both are done by quieting the mind and observing the breath. Vipassana developed from a Buddhist tradition and Yoga with roots in Hinduism, both arose out of the same spiritual culture of ancient India and share a common goal: freedom from suffering. Silence requires listening, so listen to the portion of God within your heart.
- Set your intention of compassion (Karuna).
- Have an open heart free of judgments of yourself, others, and your practice.
- Listen to your breath and observe your body always.
- If you need to glance at the instructor, do so, and then come back to your own silent meditative practice.
- Poses are to be held along with the instructor, so ease the body into the pose with the breath, and remain. If you know your body is tight, refrain from pushing. Be present and receptive.
- Advanced variations are ONLY to be taken when demonstrated by the instructor, this is not a competition, and it is an opportunity for self-reflection, transformation, and healing through introspection. Embrace staying in stillness.
- Changes through asana will be done with minimal verbal instruction and the “Chh” sound to inspire a pure universal mind (chitta).
- Let your breath get longer as you get deeper in the poses, keep your shoulders relaxed throughout the practice.
- The only sound is the Ujjayi breath, done through the nose, with mouth closed and tightening of the throat.
- Let all reactions be silent with full intent to listen, until reactions cease.
Yoga Sutra 1. 2 yoga citta-vrtti-nirodah Yoga occurs when the machinations, vacillations, perturbations, whirling, spinning, and agitations (vrtti) of the mind-field (citta) dissolve, cease, and become still (nirodha)
Yoga sutra 9, shabda-jnanaupati vastu-shunyo vikalpah (true wisdom where the ordinary monkey mind stops its spinning is when the words and concepts cease).
“Water, if you don‘t stir it, will become clear; the mind, left unaltered, will find it own natural peace.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoché
While this was an amazing experience, I personally enjoy playing music in class, I enjoy cuing allignment and making physical adjustments, I also love the dialogue with students before and after yoga class, as it creates a beautiful sense of community. Sometimes even an instructor can work on talking less, so students can experience the healing in the silent moments of class. If you are looking for a different way to create/teach a yoga class, or practice, challenge your monkey mind and practice in silence. ~ Om Shanti