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Yoga and the Somatic Experience Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Day 5: Seeing

45 min - Practice


When our eyes can soften away from task and focus we can receive more of what is here. In Day 5, we move with and through the sense of sight. We begin supine with eyes covered and resting, allowing our other senses to become more curious. We find a seat and experiment with focusing and then widening our gaze, letting less or more content into our view, and noticing how what we see can come to and touch us. We transfer this discovery into our movement practice through fluid dynamic sequences and strengthening held postures. After this class, you might like to sit with another person and see them, and invite them to see you.
What You'll Need: Mat


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Welcome to day five, where we will explore our sense of sight. To begin, I'd like to lay down and tell you a little story. So if you would please make your way to constructive rest. So you'll lay down, bend your knees, have your feet on the floor. Now bring your hands in front of you and rub them together, saying hello to contact, to touch.

And now place your hands over your eyes. So the heel of your hand will be on your cheekbones and your fingers will be up on your forehead. Your eyes can rest in the shadow of your own hands. Your sense of sight was the last to develop embryologically. The first sense to develop was touch and movement and then taste and smell and hearing and then we developed our sense of sight.

Let your eyes rest here. So for many of us, the sense of sight is dominant. What would it be like to let the eyes rest, to allow the other senses to get louder or more curious? Right behind your eyes, there's fatty pillows. And your eyes rest in these pillows of fat.

Have your eyes closed, but let your hands move away from your eyes. Rest your hands on your low belly. When we first began to see our eyes were closed and we were inside liquid, inside the womb. Notice what it's like in this moment to see with your eyes closed. Very gently begin to blink a few times.

When we see we're in a conversation with light. What would it be like to see without wording? Just like we're returning to what it might have been like before we had language to see. What is it like to see while simultaneously tending and being with touch, the touch of your clothing, the touch of the ground, the touch of the air, the touch of breath? What would it be like to see while simultaneously hearing, listening?

Now if you would, please bring your knees into your chest and give yourself a little squeeze here. Lift your feet up towards the sky and reach your arms back overhead. And bring your knees into your chest. And as you're ready, transition up to your seat. Make your way to a comfortable seat, so that might mean sitting up on a cushion or blanket or chair, and we'll pause here and let our eyes move around our space.

And first look around and find more of a focal gaze. So you're letting your eyes focus, notice color and shapes, and eventually let your eyes rest on something in your space and allow your eyes to be very detailed. What are you seeing? What color? Is there preferences?

And now allow your eyes to open into a wider view. See the space between you and the object. And notice the shared ground, and notice the difference between those two ways of seeing. So one more time, simply look with more of a focus gaze, so you're detailing, maybe there's even a task inside of this way of seeing, and notice how that affects your breath. And now allow your eyes to come back, widening into the periphery, and you're still with whatever it is that you're looking at, but now you've taken in more, so there's more content and release that.

One more exercise here, let your eyes move around again, your own space, taking in what's here, and find something that feels beautiful to look at, and pause and be with, again returning to more of the focus, oh, who are you? Any memories here, any stories that show up as you're with this object? And now receive the beauty, receive what is there, like you're letting it come to you, the way light can come to you, and sound can come to you. Notice how that feels to let this beautiful object come in and touch you. Notice how that feels in your heart, notice how it feels in your breath.

And then simply release that. Notice what it's like to receive what you see. When our eyes can soften away from task and focus, there's more content, and we can receive what is here. So let's see how some of that work applies to our movement practice. You'll want to shift yourself back, and bring your hands to the floor behind you, and then bring your feet out.

This always reminds me of being like a spider. And now let your knees rock to the right, letting the left sitting bone come off the floor, reach your left hand back behind you, and notice and see what's behind you. And then come back to center, bringing your left hand down, send your knees to the left, reach your right arm back, and again see what's there. We'll go side to side like that, so your feet will come down, knees up, right hand back, and the left arm reaches. Traveling back through center, knees up, knees to the left, right arm reaches.

So continue to do this one more time each side, and see all the while, and what would it be like to be moved by your eyes? Coming back, seeing the space, and receiving what you see. Just travel back through center, and make your way towards in all fours. Wiggle out your tail a little bit, start to move through your spine a little bit. And when you're ready, head back to a downward facing dog.

So a common instruction here for gaze is to send your gaze between your ankles, or between your knees. And here we're looking into space. So there's nothing there, except space in the room behind you. Notice what that does for your eyes, how it can open you up to more content, more potential, more possibility, and then one more breath here, receiving what you see, and notice what that does to your overall experience of being in downward facing dog. Step your feet behind your hands, and come into a squat, turn your toes out, heels in.

Look up a little bit, mindful of your neck, make sure your neck's okay with that. And then imagine, you know, like some curiosity there, maybe a focused gaze, and let that lift you up to stand, and now look down, and have again some curiosity there, you might be forcing it a little bit, but let that bring you down to squat, as though you're going to like pick something off the floor. Then look up, and come up, and look down, and go down. One more time, looking up, go up, and then come to stand in parallel. Turn your head to the right.

Now if you kept going, keep looking back, keep looking back, and let it turn you all the way in a circle, to come back to center. So your eyes, right on top of your spine, and they can move you through space. So look to the left, then keep looking behind you, notice how that's starting to twist your spine, and turn all the way around in a circle. Let your arms go up, but start to turn your gaze up. And now turn your gaze down, and release your hands down.

A couple more times like that, so the arms will start to turn up, now lift the arms, and look down, and release your arms. Turn your eyes up, and release your eyes down, and this time you're going to release your whole head down, and start to fold forward. Now begin to look forward, and start to rise from the eyes. So I'm going forward and up with my gaze, and look down, and then feel the weight of your head, and head all the way down. And fold, and now looking forward, and I'm going to be really curious, like what's up there?

Letting my eyes lead my spine into a little back bend, and then looking down, release the weight of your head to go down, folding forward. One more time, we'll rise, looking forward, and then rising, and we'll find center, and pause, a brief moment here to see what you are seeing, and to receive what you are seeing. So you can simultaneously be in your other senses while seeing. All right, so from here, we'll shift the weight into the right foot, hug your left knee into your chest. And your left leg back behind you, and make your way to warrior two.

Turn your gaze over your right hand, and find a focus gaze. And notice the power in that focus gaze, the directness, and then open up into periphery. Notice how that affects the whole shape. For me, it feels softer, more possibility than in warrior two. Sometimes it's fun to play with focus.

You can focus on the one fingernail or some point out in your room or in your space. From here, let's come into extended side angle. You can bring your right forearm down, the left fingertips will go up and over, allowing for some buoyancy in your hips. Turn your gaze down towards the floor, notice how that speaks to your whole spine. And then begin to turn your gaze up towards the sky, but let your whole spine respond.

Notice if there's any pain in your neck, and then back up a little bit. Get curious, looking down, looking up, and you can also turn your eyes without turning your spine. Your eyes can turn without having to move your whole head, and looking down. Now find a place that feels most nourishing for you right now, and we'll pause for a couple extra breaths. Rise on up for a warrior two.

Bring both hands to the floor for downward facing dog. Come forward to plank, lower both knees down to tap the floor, and extend both legs. And then again like that, lower both knees to tap the floor, and extend. Lower both knees to tap, and extend, and back to downward facing dog. Step your feet behind your hands, coming into a wide squat again, turn your toes out, heels in, bend both knees, your version of squat, and then again looking up to stand up, and looking down to go down, like you're, what's down there?

Curiously going to touch the floor, and then looking up, rise, we'll pause here, bring the legs to parallel, and pausing. Shift your weight into your left foot, hug your right knee into your chest, and step back to warrior two. And again, simple curiosity of, when I change how I'm seeing, does that change what I'm experiencing in my whole body? Try a focus gaze, looking at one point, detailing it, and then try periphery, where you notice the space between, you notice the space around, and then one more time the focus and the soft. Make your way to extended side angle.

Allow for a little buoyancy in the hips, and we're curiously going to look down to the floor, notice how that affects your whole spine, and then begin to look up, maybe to the side, maybe up towards the sky. Notice how that can move your whole spine, and we'll look down, and we'll look up. A couple more times like that. How are you seeing, are you taking in what's here, and find a place that feels most nourishing with your eyes and spine, and find a couple breaths. Let's rise back up to a warrior two, release both hands down, make your way to downward facing dog, noticing the space between your legs, between your eyes and your legs.

Come forward to plank, lower your knees down to the ground, and this time we'll walk the hands back to sit on the heels. With all of the sensation now in your feet, notice what's happening to your eye gaze, and what is it like to let your eyes rest back in those fatty pillows? What is it like to widen your gaze to take in more content? And come forward to all fours, untuck the toes, come to the tops of the feet, push down to the tops of your feet, hover your knees up off the floor, and release your knees down. Lower down onto your forearms, and let's bring the hands to the floor, start to walk your knees back until you feel your belly get strong.

You can keep your knees down, or you can choose to lift your knees, rock your hips a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left, a little to the right, a little to the left, and then pausing in your forearm plank. Lower your knees, lower your thighs, and come into sinks. Bring the tops of your feet onto the floor. Notice what your eyes are. And then as an experiment, so we don't always do this, but as an experiment we'll start to look straight out and maybe up, but be really mindful of your neck.

So how can your whole spine respond to this back bend? Let your eyes move your whole spine, not just your neck. And from here we'll start to look down. You can keep your knees down again, or tuck your toes and lift your thighs, push back up to the forearm plank. And now walk your feet in, lift your hips up for dolphin, feel free to bend your knees so that your whole pelvis can go up and back away from your forearms.

Some breaths here. So eyes, seeing, being in a conversation with light, and that can happen even if your eyes are closed. It's like that early way of seeing, seeing the eyelids. Two more breaths. Lower your knees down and find your child's pose.

Allow your eyes to open, notice what it's like to see in the shadow of your own body. Notice what it's like to see both your world, but also inside, like you're looking in as you look out. Walk your hands in, roll up to sit on your heels or come up onto your shins and the hands will come back. Lower a little back bend, come forward to all fours, tuck your toes, hover your knees up off the ground, again seeing high to some strength in your belly, back to a downward facing dog. Step your left foot forward between your hands, lower your back knee down for a low lunge.

You can always pad your back knee with a blanket, and we'll come on up for a low lunge, letting the thighs here move apart by keeping the weight balanced in the right hip in particular. So I always want to make sure I'm not collapsing all of my weight to the front of my hip joints. And then from there, lift your eyes out on the horizon, and notice what that does to your heart space, and now look down towards the floor and notice what is that doing for your heart space. Try looking up towards the sky, what does that do for your heart space? And let your eyes inspire a back bend.

Place both hands down, step back to downward facing dog, and let's head into the second side. Step your right foot forward, bring your back knee down. Start to lift your arms, moment to get curious about the weight in your hips, about the groundedness of your front foot, and then as you're ready, look down, notice how that feels in your heart. Look out on the horizon, how does that feel? Look up towards the sky, and let that inspire a back bend.

Place both hands down, and step back to a downward facing dog. Come forward to plank, and lower all the way down to your belly. And rise up into shalabhasana, so we'll lift our chest, we'll lift our legs, reach the arms, and then again, just a little experiment. So usually the gaze is down to support our necks. Experiment with letting your gaze come slightly forward, and let your whole spine respond to that, and compliment that with length through the front of your legs.

Lift up through the quads, gently lower down. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, and find child's pose. Again, turning into yourself, looking into yourself, resting your eyes in the shadow of your own body, and then turning up the volume of all your other senses. Touch and movement, taste and smell, listen, and we'll gently roll up and sit on your heels. Rise up to stand on your shins, and tuck your toes, we're preparing here for Ustrasana, for camel.

Bring your hands to your hips, move down through your shins, and begin to look up to the high diagonal, and maybe look up a little bit more to the sky. Take your whole spine with you, remember that strength in the lower, middle, and upper belly. Can you find some of that here? Maybe reach your fingertips back towards your heels, maybe come back to hold on to your heels. And here, I usually like to look forward or up towards the sky, it feels a little more nourishing for my neck, but make some choices for yourself, and notice how you're seeing.

What would happen if you could still see something beautiful and receive it? From the strength of your belly, come up, and untuck your toes, and have a seat on your heels, pausing to listen to your own experience. Let these postures teach you something about yourself, about the world. Come forward to all fours, tuck your toes under, and then again, hover your knees up, draw the low belly back. Make your way to a downward facing dog, step your feet behind your hands, coming back into your version of squat, look down to the floor, see what's there, and then look up towards the sky, just up maybe to the diagonal again, checking in with your neck, and then rise from the curiosity of your eyes, and look down, and lower from the curiosity of your eyes, and look up, curiosity of eyes, look down, curiosity, coming down, one more time, looking up, we rise, and then bring your feet together, and we stand.

So when you're riding your bike, if you turn your eyes, the whole bike will go in that direction. I went into a ditch that way, once, once, just looking, and whoof, there I went. So we're going to do this movement of looking side to side. If you start to feel dizzy, just slow it down a little bit, we're going to widen the legs. Just simply find the shifting side to side, weight shifting, okay, and then find center.

Now look over your right shoulder, and let it take you into a twist, and your weight's going to shift to the right foot as you do that, and then you'll come back to center, looking forward, and now look over your left shoulder. My right heel pops up off the floor with that, back through center, looking over your right shoulder to twist, and through center, looking over your left shoulder to twist, and back through center. I'm going to add an arm, so you'll look over your right shoulder, twist, and then reach with the left arm. Come back through center, look over your left shoulder, reach with your right arm, and twist. Back through center, looking and twisting, left arm reaches, back through center, look over your left shoulder, twist, and reach with your right arm.

Back through center. We'll keep doing that, and if you want, you can speed it up a little bit. So I go down through center, and there's this up movement as I look and twist. Down through center, up movement as I look and twist. Move through center, look to the right, reach with the left hand.

Move through center, look to the left, reach with right hand. Few more times. You can include your breath, and certainly include your eyes. Through center, spiral, through center, spiral, through center, spiral. One more time each side.

And travel through center, pause, see if you got a little dizzy with that movement, and then orient yourself to your midline and center. Lift your arms up, look up, release your arms down, look down, and fold forward. Release the weight of your head. Look forward, and come all the way up, find a little back bend at the top, and look down. Release the weight of your head, and fold forward.

Look forward, come up, and look down, roll down. Look forward, come up, and this time we'll balance ourselves through center, gathering ourselves into our own midline, standing. Widen your legs for a wide legged forward fold. Bring your hands to your hips, and then again, looking up, take your whole spine with you. Tip your hips to come forward, bring your hands to the floor, or blocks if you like.

We'll lengthen the spine, and fold forward. We want our weight to come far enough forward that our whole spines and our heads can release towards the earth. And then bringing your attention to your gaze, and notice what happens when you receive what's there. Changes something. Lengthen partway, and then find a little rock to the left, and then come back through center, a little rock to the right, bend your right knee back through center, bend your left knee, rock to the left, and you can let your spine move in a fluid way, sequential way.

The next time you're rocking towards the front of your mat, take a quarter turn and step back to a downward facing dog. If there's a movement here, your skin, or your eyes, or your tongue, or your mouth desires, feel free to move in that way. Like if you're desiring a dog, feel free, if you feel the, there would be nourishment in another posture, feel free to move through that in a minute. We'll head towards child's pose. And as you're ready, meeting up in child's pose.

Turning your gaze inward. Roll on up, make your way to constructive rest, so where we began. Turn your head a little bit to the right, and a little bit to the left. Now lead from your eyes. Bend your eyes to the right, to the corners of the eyes, keep reaching with your eyes and let it turn your head.

And now bring your eyes all the way to the left, to the corners of the eye, and then let that move your head to the left. One more time each side. So first moving your eyes, and then moving your head all the way to the right. And then turning your eyes to the left, first moving your eyes, and then moving your head. And release that and come to center.

And again, this curiosity of, can I see, while also being in my sense of touch and movement. Can I see, while also tending to my mouth and nose. These dialogues are these portals that let us be in dialogue with the outer world and the inner world. Can I see, while also being with sound, while listening. Yeah, these are subtle shifts and yet in my own experience quite profound.

Bring your knees into your chest and find happy baby rock just a little bit side to side. And find a Supta Baddha Konasana, bring the soles of your feet together and hold on to your ankles or you can hold to your feet or your shins. Feel the weight of your legs. And notice that length coming through the sides of your neck and your upper shoulders. And bring your knees into your chest, send your legs over to the right, open up your arms up wide to the side for a supine twist.

Where do you want to look? How is that that affect the movement of your spine? We'll come through center and then find the other side. And again, what are you taking in? What are you seeing?

And we'll travel back through center, bring your feet down to the floor and begin to prepare your body for Shavasana. And if you're comfortable with it, close your eyes so you're seeing the back of your eyelids. Again with the eyes closed, we're in a conversation with light, we're receiving light. Notice touch and movement and fresh and let the activity of touch be fresh. This light touch of air and clothing and the firm touch of the ground.

This is all moving contact, so we touch without already knowing. It's alive, moving, changing, be with the touch on the inside. The sense organ of touch is located throughout the entire body. Bring your attention to your mouth, the wetness of your mouth, the shape of your mouth, creativity of your tongue, the desire of your mouth. Bring your attention to your nose and the smells, bringing in, releasing.

And do a sound, listen, let sound come to you and learn about your environment through sound, including sight, including eyes, very gently begin to move from the desire of your senses, move from the curiosity of your senses to know this world, to be in relationship with the world, to learn about the world and to learn about yourself through sensing. The transition to your side body. What would it be like to move from the desire of skin, touching, being touched and make your way all the way up to your seat? Take a moment to give your eyes to the screen and notice the distance between the screen and your eyes. Notice the space between.

And now see me while also feeling this ground, while also being touched by the ground. See me while also being in the space that you're in and listening, receive sound. And notice the quality of that, to be together like this while also deeply tending to your own experience. It's quite beautiful. We'll close our practice today with a bow, bring your hands together.

Thank you. Thank you so much for practicing with me today. For your homework, I often do it with a person, but you could do it with anything really where you do what we just did. You say see me while also being in your earth seat. See me while being with your breath.

And then another piece that you can add is you see and you say, I invite you to see me. And it's really powerful if you do it with another person. I invite you to see me. It's beautiful. So practice that.

Let me know how it goes. Thanks again.


Jenny S
5 people like this.
This episode dove deep into the idea of sight and offered some inventive ways to explore one’s relation to seeing and how it moves the body. Very cool! But what I really loved was the way you pulled the other four senses along for the ride, making this a complete and satisfying final episode of this series. Thank you, Suniti - this has been divine 🙏🏻❤️🦋
Christel B
2 people like this.
It's been nourishing to explore the senses on the mat with your lovely guidance. 
1 person likes this.
Thank you Jenny S for practicing with me and going for this sensing journey. It's been wonderful to read your comments. Thank you! 
2 people like this.
Christel B, Wonderful! Thank you for moving through these classes with me.
Christel B
2 people like this.
Thank you Suniti.  I enjoyed the innovation of your classes, allowing for exploration and more self generated movement.
Jane T
3 people like this.
Suniti...I just completed your 1st and 2nd somatic series...and loved each session...Your gentle movements and voice felt caring and nourishing...I see the dancer in you! I also looked into a teacher that you mentioned...Michael Stone...I am enjoying his talks and meditations...and also The World Comes to is so sad to me that he is no longer here in person...It is so cool that his Community Library lives on...Thank YOU for being an inspiration to me...with love...Jane
1 person likes this.
Jane T, Thank you for your share! It’s an honor to be here on yoga anytime and it’s sweet that we connected here! Michael Stone was a dear friend and his online library is such a gift. I’m glad you are enjoying it. I love that you moved through both of the series and felt nourished. 
Sending love! 
Julia P
4 people like this.
I love and relate to all the other beautiful comments. Every session has been so powerful and this one with sight especially so as I usually practice with my eyes closed.  
Dissolving the resistance to open my eyes, I found them come alive and truly lead my body into some amazing spaces. Thank you as ever Suniti for your thoughtful, sensitive and delightful teaching.
2 people like this.
Julia P, What a beautiful share. Thank you for articulating some of your experience! I love that your eyes found some new ways to be included. 
Bruni W.
2 people like this.
I did both your somatic series and loved every minute of it. Instead of getting somewhere to stay with the sense impressions is yummy. Your sensitivity and readiness to feel is liberating. Thank you for your refreshing classes.
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