Do you pick your row by how you are feeling that day? I sometimes do. Typically I set up my mat in the second row. I can usually see myself well, and the energy feels good, as I am surrounded by yogis on all sides. I am centered in my practice in the second row. Sometimes, if I feel like I need to take it easy in class, I will head to the third row. I feel like there is less of an expectation for my practice in the third row, so maybe I give myself a little bit of a break.
More recently, I have been trying out the front row. The front row is nice! You have an unobstructed view of yourself, there is great energy from your fellow first row yogis, and that little bit of extra scrutiny pushes your practice forward. In the front row, I feel like I need to set a good example for the yogis behind me, particularly if there are new students in class, so I keep my wiping and fidgeting to a minimum, and I push myself to take each posture to my fullest expression.
I particularly like the view I have of myself in the first row. It helps me keep my knee more firmly locked in standing head to knee and gives me somewhere to look so my head doesn’t droop in balancing stick. It is also a nice treat to meet my own eyes in the mirror during toe stand in such an intimate way. Plus, the splashing of my sweat on the front mirror always gives me a much needed chuckle as I raise my arm in the set-up for standing bow.
I am glad I am experimenting with the rows. Each brings a new dimension to my practice and keeps me engaged and energized to see what comes next.
Experimenting with the rows has also helped me to see how the small choices we make each day can have a big impact on the type of experiences we have. Hiding in the back in life rarely leads to a peak experience, but sometimes it is necessary. The middle path can lead to a satisfying, yet fairly typical day. But taking the risk to be out in front can pay off handsomely, leading to a more energized experience and deeper connections with yourself and others. I like having a first row kind of day. Maybe I should try to do that more often.
Yogis, do you have a favorite row for your practice?