Join Nathan in an exploration of your kinesthetic sense without the use of your eyes.
Nathan Mills designed the Dark Yoga Practice in 2008 after experimenting with the use of sensory deprivation in his own asana and meditation practice. Although he never intended to offer these practices as a group class or workshop, the inherent value of this became more and more apparent. After thoughtful consideration, he began to organize a way to offer these practices in a public setting.
In Dark Yoga, Nathan offers a practice consisting of one hour of “static” yoga postures in complete darkness to prepare the mind and body. (The list of yoga postures is made available before class for review.) Once the physical practice is complete, then the group transitions to a guided meditation/visualization.
This workshop is designed to tap into the primal sense, awareness, and intuition that modern living has diluted in us. By cutting off the sense of sight, we greatly awaken our other senses only to return inward and withdraw from them to a state of pratyahara, a total absorption in meditation.
Note: This workshop requires a space that can be made completely dark.
Though silent yoga can be practiced separately, this practice is meant to sequentially follow the Dark Yoga practice the next day. This gives the body and mind time to process the practices from the proceeding night and then do a similar physical practice to re-inspire any new awareness cultivated the night before. Students are encouraged (but not required) to take a full day of silence following the practice.
See what past participants have said about Dark Yoga:
Experiencing profound darkness
I had the unique opportunity to practice in the pitch darkness. My dear friend and teacher, Nathan Mills, held a workshop called Dark Yoga. While so many other workshops in the yoga community use words such as “illuminate, brightness, radiance,” Nathan held space for us to dive deeply into the void, the darkness, and discover for ourselves, where the light resides when all other light goes out. In the first few moments after the last candle was extinguished, I experienced what felt like a pause in time where I thought “Ah, wow, amazing, he really meant dark.” I even found myself smiling at the situation I had chosen.
We don’t experience this profound darkness very often in life. Artificial lighting continually bombards us, including computer screens and televisions. In this room where we all practiced and could hear each other breathing, I found comfort in the darkness. I contemplated the yogis in caves at the base of the Himalayas. I longed for a time and place where there was less stimulation from the world around us, and more availability to the mysteries held inside the teachings of yoga.
However, this is not what my life looks like, and thankfully, the mystery is still very alive, even with the ipods and ipads (notice that it is “i” and not “I”) that constantly beg for our attention. I had a friend and fellow teacher recently ask me “How are you so disciplined?” which made me laugh since I live with external and internal distractions on a daily basis. The answer was simple… “Practice anyway.” Turn the computer off, the phone off, dim the lights, light some candles, plan some time in solitude and get on with it. However, remember that your entire life is yoga, so don’t stop once you rise up from savasana.
Tap directly into the “dark” areas
Dark Yoga is indispensable for those who want take the journey within. I found this workshop to be a portal to self without any shortcuts. Unsettling, challenging and mysterious, this experience allowed me to tap directly into the ‘dark’ or suppressed areas that I’ve allowed due to social agreements, false sense of self, or simply choosing dead ends along my path. There is an invitation of going straight to the source as well as a profound sense of coming home.
Through the use of Nathan’s expertly guided meditation, the workshop facilitates an awakening of the dormant yet potent aspect of true self. Dark Yoga is literally dark. We do carefully chosen asanas in pitch black, and conversely, Dark Yoga is truly illuminating – we have the opportunity to face oursleves. The experience can have a lasting effect for months in terms of un-peeling the layers. I would recommend this workshop to be taken as many times as possible!
Aware of body from within
It was so dark that I retreated within myself not by choice but by the nature of the environment around me. I had to become aware of my body from within since I had no awareness of my body externally. And that was amazing.
Becoming egoless in the dark
Dark Yoga removes the one element that so unconsciously infuses our lives: light. This subtle extraction allows the brain to completely tune out all sense of competition and physical awareness. It heightens the mind’s ability to just simply move within the body. Although I always try to practice these same ideals in a normal yoga class, the darkness forced me to face the fact that I truly do not achieve the level of egolessness that I often think I do. External competition completely diminishes in the dark, but so does internal competition. Since I could not see my limbs, I had to trust my mind and body to move as they should, as they needed, and know that however that was, it was correct. It was a beautiful exploration of the ego and the way that impacts my practice. The guided meditation at the end of the workshop provided the perfect mechanism to let the mind go deeper into the realizations that had accumulated throughout my movement. Nathan’s steady voice and guidance illuminated the path artfully, allowing me to drift away into my thoughts but in the same moment remain aware and witness their identities. Dark Yoga is a great way for beginners and advanced yogis alike to try a new approach to their practice. It is a space full of openness and exploration. It is one workshop that I cannot wait to do again and again!