Silence Please

Silence, please!

What role does silence play in your yoga practice? By Paula Hines

How do you feel about silence? How do you respond in the face of it? And what part does silence play in your yoga practice?

Asana is one part of yoga – the part which (I think it’s fair to say) is for most of us, our entry point into the practice. I used to teach asana classes with music, curating a playlist for this class and that. Plus, the inclusion of music often seemed to be an expectation. But for some years now, my classes have been free of music. Nowadays when teaching, I leave more space for silence than I used to. When I began teaching I was nervous of silence, though looking back this was more about my own insecurities as a newer teacher as well as worries that the silence would feel awkward for those present (myself included). I am certain this is partly related to why I felt having curated playlists for my classes seemed necessary. (I’m not anti-music by the way, but I mention this example as one of the ways my practice has changed over time.)

Where I once struggled with silence, now I am grateful for it. There is a time for it. There are lessons in it. Silence has taught me more than I would ever have imagined.

Why do I feel this way? Maybe it’s because I’ve found that silence provides space for self-reflection, compassion and as a consequence, a path towards deeper self-knowledge. It’s not something that comes all at once, of course – it’s a lifetime’s journey, a lifetime of practice. But it does feel, to me at least, that little bits are revealed in the silence when I am truly willing to be with the mental fluctuations that inevitably arise and accept the present moment as it is without distraction. Silence can indeed be one of our greatest teachers, if we allow it.

That said, as the years pass there is also a feeling of ‘the more I know the less I know’, yet I find comfort in this. We can never ‘know’ it all. We will always be learning. But as we each continue on our individual paths and stay open, there is the possibility of getting closer to self-transformation – to realising and experiencing our true self, our true nature, not only for oneself but for our collective liberation.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer. Her new book, Rest + Calm (Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing) is out now. Find her on Instagram @ucanyoga1

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