The doors open and countless bodies file in. One by one, they unfurl their Manduka mats. Then spritz water on their YogiToes non-skid mat towels. Pull their hair back with Lululemon head bands and finally set their eco-friendly towel and water bottle within reach.
I guide them through centering and basic opening stretches and I cue the first downward dog. Like a contagion in a dance line, hands shoot up to pull their pants up over their panties or to tuck their panties back down.
Thus begins the battle with their unmentionables.
The constant tugging does not good Pratyahara make
“Pratyahara is when the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate the nature of the mind.” –Patanjali Sutra 2.54
Your senses are your sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. As you progress in your practice, your five senses become less engaged with all the external pulls such as the burn and fatigue in your muscles or the smell of alcohol being purged from your neighbor’s body.
Pratyahara (Sanskrit for sense withdrawal) involves the ability to switch off your senses at will and focus your mind’s activities on your internal world. Anything that pulls you back to external factors is “anti-pratyahara.”
The panty pull is an egregious offender but ill-fitting shirts wreck havoc on a pratyahara practice too. Reach high overhead for Warrior 1, and with only the slightest hint of tummy showing, participants come out of the pose to tussle with their tops.
I confess I’m a commando chick
When it comes to my own pratyahara practice, I do best when I can eliminate the distractions as much as possible. I don’t wear undies so I can practice the pose and not the panty pick.
Yoga sutras teaches us to get rid of distractions. If you’re pushing, shoving, tugging and adjusting your panties how centered and undistracted are you really?
To all the current panties-under-your-yoga-pants-girls-who-have-left-a-pose-to-pick, I dare you to go commando for a class. What would it be like to go through a whole hour and not have to move anything around–other than your body?
I could never do that!
Worried because you sweat a lot?
Most workout clothing, including yoga pants, are moisture wicking and highly absorbant. Also, the majority of us wear black yoga pants, which makes it pretty tough to see the sweat, and if it’s a really, really hot class, your panties are no match for the sweat flooding from all your pores.
Lastly, ain’t nobody lookin’ at your crotch.
In the 1000s of classes I’ve taught and taken, never once have I heard someone complain about sweat spots–unless they’re puddled on the floor and someone steps in it.
A New Independence Day
As all my commando converts know–there is an incredible freedom that comes from ditching your drawers. You entire mind is liberated to focus only on your breath and movement.
So I declare this 4th of July to be Commando Class Day!!! (Guys keep your undies on. No one likes an unexpected wink and a smile.) Share this post and help me create panty-free zones in all yoga classes. Just say no. No more picking. No more pulling. No more excuses to come out the pose.
Five ways to practice pratyahara outside of class
You can also try some of these suggestions below to really take your pratyahara practice to the next level.
- Take a day off from the avalanche of information. Turn off your TV, radio and keep your computer turned off.
- Get away from the constant noise and spend some time in nature–alone.
- Fully embrace savasana (final relaxation) instead of running out the door for your next important thing to do.
- Practice bumble bee breath and mudra.
- Get rid of those damn panties so you stop fidgeting and start focusing.