“If you put your heart against the earth with me, in serving every creature, our Beloved will enter you from our sacred realm and we will be, we will be so happy.”
This summer, I have been reflecting on love in all its forms; self-love, love for others, and love for the divine. In the yoga tradition, Bhakti Yoga is a path that focuses on cultivating love for the divine as a way to open the heart. Recently, I had the opportunity to share my love of yoga teaching with a group of blossoming yoga teachers in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
When teaching asana to my students one morning, I asked them to imagine entering these yoga postures from the perspective of love. I asked them to remember a time that they felt completely loved by somebody and to fill their body with the sensations of this memory. From this feeling of love, when we choose to deepen into a challenging posture or rest in a gentle one it is a choice rooted in deep wisdom. This is very different from entering our yoga practice thinking about our “bad knee,” or “imbalanced hip.” From a perspective of profound and unconditional self-love, we may choose to practice with intense power and vigor, pouring sweat onto our mat, or we may choose to rest and pause frequently. We could choose to let go of a block or strap that we have been using to modify our asana for years or we may reach for the prop that may add an easeful quality to our pose.
I have had the recent pleasure of witnessing my friends’ four month old baby develop the mobility of his physical form for the first time. It is such an inspiring process. Each new capacity for movement or stability that he cultivates is a result of neurons firing down a new pathway. We naturally celebrate every new movement or capacity he finds. As adults exploring a physical yoga practice, we are also learning new capacities for movement. How can we meet the edges and opportunities in our practice with the love and awe of a four month old? When we attempt a new possibility and fall from it, can we relate to ourselves with that same love that we offer a baby taking their first steps?
In my somatic healing work, I often explore how the contractions in our bodies have solidified around emotional contractions in our lives. I became aware that the contractions in my body that I was slowly softening through yoga and mindfulness were defending my heart from the possibility of love. As I softened my heart, I found myself falling in love in a way that I had not experienced since being a teenager. This experience arose as a result of slowly unwinding the contractions in my body and opening up my own capacity to feel.
In our yoga practice, when we move into a new or uncomfortable space and allow ourselves to feel what is present either physically or emotionally, we develop our capacity to feel more on all levels in our lives. When we shift out of habitual ways of holding our body, we create the possibility of meeting life in new ways.