When The Lights Go Out…In The Yoga Room

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November 13, 2012

Don’t you just love that moment in yoga class when you’re a big sweaty mess and the teacher turns the lights down? It symbolizes that class is almost over, it’s time to slow down, and there are just a few more asanas until…savasana.

If it’s been a spirited yoga class, one where your energy is just about completely drained, this crossover from light to dark is an oh so welcome relief, almost a blessing in disguise. On the other hand, I have taken classes where I am so in the moment that the lighting cue has pleasantly surprised me, and I think, “Wow, I can’t believe class is almost over. Time flies when you’re finding your bliss; I don’t want it to end!”

I had both of these sensations last weekend in a one hour-and-a-half, hot and sweaty class led by Canadian kirtan and indie pop-rock musician and yoga teacher Wade Imre Morissette. Wade took the packed hot yoga room at Chagrin Yoga through a vigorous vinyasa flow class titled Summon Your Power. This humid room was so full of powerful intentions swirling about that, at one point when I took my camera out to capture a few pictures for the DDD, the lens on my camera was completely fogged up.

Wow – it was hot in that room! But, I still enjoyed getting an assist in a drop back.

Wade’s friendly, soothing voice and simple yet precise cues sprinkled with humor took me to a place of bliss, and when those lights went down, I got an overwhelming feeling of relief: “Aahhhh, class is almost over. You made it!” As much as I didn’t want the class to end, it couldn’t have gotten much sweeter than when Wade serenaded us all through the dark into a soothing savasana.

The Premature Lights Go Down

Those last few moments of class spent in darkness should always be peaceful, quieting the mind. A few more long, deep stretches or twists should be reserved for this moment, preparing the class for savasana.

Sometimes this is not the case, and the instructor pulls a premature lights go down. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. You’re in class, you’re tired, the instructor turns down the lights, you get yourself psyched up for savasana, and then the instructor gets the class back up into a standing pose or starts doing core work. My first thought is always, “What the heck? The lights are down; this is not the time or the place for stomach crunches!”

Call me old school, but seriously, when those lights go down, it should be followed by one to two mellow supta asanas that flow right into good ‘ole savasana and some soothing savasana music.

Setting the mood

Time for confessions: When I first started teaching yoga, I have to admit there were many times I forgot to turn the lights down. Yes, I was denying my students those blissful last few minutes of class in the dark. Thankfully, I remember to do so now, and I’m always mindful not to pull the premature lights go down.

I sometimes wonder what students who are completely new to yoga think when I turn the lights down near the end of class. I’m sure I’ve raised quite a few people’s angst levels when those lights take them from a safe bright place to a dark room full of strangers. When I first started practicing yoga, I don’t remember this ever catching me off-guard, but I would love to hear from any of you that have had an interesting first-time story about this. How did you work past the anxiety and sink into the experience?

Do you have a favorite when the lights go down moment? Please leave a comment and share your story!

And on that note, I’ll let Steve Perry and Journey take us out with his version of “When the Lights Go Down.”

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