We rely on our eyes so much when we exercise that if you take your sight away briefly, it forces your body to tap into its senses of hearing and touch, which can help you become more aware of your body and how it's moving. Doing certain exercises with your eyes closed is also more difficult when it comes to balance, not to mention a little scary, so it can bring new life to boring exercises you've been doing for years. While certain types of exercise are too dangerous to try blindfolded, here are three you should try "in the dark."
Since yoga is very visually driven, it's easy to get caught up in what a pose is supposed to look like. Closing your eyes allows you to ignore your preconceptions of how straight your leg should be or how much you can arch your back, and it helps you tap into the true meaning of yoga, which is to connect your breath with your movements.
Try this: Step onto your mat and move through one Sun Salutation A with your eyes open. Then close your eyes and try moving through the same series. Focus on grounding your feet and moving slow enough to keep your balance. Become aware of each breath you take, linking your inhales and exhalations with each controlled movement. At first you'll feel extremely unstable and stressed at not being able to see what your body is doing since you're used to your drishti (focal point) helping you stay balanced. After becoming comfortable with this technique, you might prefer practicing yoga with closed eyelids. I find it has such a calming effect on my mind and really helps me connect to my strong and even breath.
Keep reading to see the other two exercises to try with your eyes closed.
Whether using dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise balls, or your own body weight, many strength training exercises can be performed safely without watching what you're doing. You won't realize how much you use your sense of sight to stabilize until you try closing your eyes. Your sense of balance goes out the window, so you end up utilizing more muscles to prevent falling. If you don't strength train in front of a mirror then this technique will be fairly easy to attempt.
Try this: Begin with basic exercises you've done a million times so proper form is second nature. Bicep curls, push-ups, crunches on a ball, or squats are great first moves. Perform two or three reps with your eyes open, and then finish the set with closed eyes. I love how closing me eyes helps me zone in on the muscles being worked and helps me relax the muscles that aren't.
The repetition of jumping rope makes this exercise ideal for trying with closed eyes. You obviously want to be a strong and stable jumper before attempting this technique, but once you do, it's amazing how meditative it will feel.
Try this: Stand in a safe place where the ground is smooth and you're not at risk for hitting anything with your moving rope. Begin jumping rope with your eyes open, concentrating on making an even beat with your thumping feet as they hit the floor. When you've established a rhythm, take three jumps with your eyes open, then three jumps with your eyes closed. Continue with this pattern until you feel ready to take 10, 20, or even 50 jumps with your eyes closed. Take slow and steady jumps at first and then work on building up your speed. I know it sounds crazy to close your eyes with a rope whipping all around you, but because your movements are so subtle and unvaried, jumping rope is easier to do in the dark than you think.