Visualizing something while listening to your breathing is something I learned on my own. My mind always seemed to wander when I was starting with yoga. This was compounded by my competitive streak wherein I compare my self with the other students. Rather than yoga being a relaxing exercise, it became a sport for me - to outdo the person beside you, to stretch it further, to come out on top. Obviously, this runs against the main tenet of yoga, which teaches you to listen to your body and re-center your energy such that your body and mind are one.
I realized that when I visualized something it is easier for me to detach my self from the external environment. Instead, I could easily focus on what my body is telling me. Choosing something to visualize was not hard. Having spent summers in my mom's hometown in Caridad (in Siargao Island) that faces the Pacific Ocean, I remember its large waves. My summers were centered in that cove that spans the small village where my grandma lives. During low-tide the waves crash on the reef, far from the shore. They make the loudest noise that incessantly reverberates througout the village. When the tide shifts, mostly during sunset, the waves reach the shore. It is the best time of the day to be in the cove to see the rolls of waves lapping on sand.
I use that memory of the waves in Caridad when I do yoga. I try to recall the gentle sound of water crashing on sand, of the rhythm of the undulating ocean that goes with my breathing.
The last time I was in Siargao was August of 2005 (pictures here). Writing this blog entry, I can't help being nostalgic of my summers in Caridad when we were children. I always say that those are my best memories of childhood.
Photo Credit: Hedi Slimane