Which Way Are You Looking?

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One month while I was teaching a class on arm balances and instructing students on where to focus their gaze when attempting these challenging poses, I heard myself say to the class, “If you are looking down, that’s where you are going.”
Hmmm….now what exactly did I mean by that?
At first blush, I simply meant that focusing your attention on the floor will likely send you in that direction – down, rather than in an upright and balanced position supported by arm strength. But could it mean something else as well? Honestly, I have pondered this at length and fully believe that “looking down” – both on and off the mat, can and will take you there.
A positive attitude, while it cannot guarantee a positive outcome, can at least stack the deck in your favor. And it can also eliminate the worry and anxiety that comes when you are focusing on or expecting “the worst”.
One of the primary goals of yoga is to reduce suffering in our lives, and isn’t a negative attitude simply self-imposed suffering? I believe that a yoga practice, especially one that is sustained over a long period of time, can help you cultivate a positive attitude and achieve a sense of ease and grace in your life that will make all your experiences more comfortable and rewarding.
New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham has spent a lifetime on the streets of that city photographing the realities of everyday life. Surely no place on earth offers greater contrast than the streets of New York City. About his experience navigating through the jumble, he remarked, “If you look for beauty, you will find it”.
Which way are you looking – up, or down? Let your yoga practice help you achieve a sense of peace and balance both on the mat, and in the jumble of your own life.