Why do you practice yoga? What gets you onto your mat in the morning? To that class? Sitting down on your meditation cushion?
During my initial foray into yoga, it was magical. The honeymoon period of loving every down-dog, pranayama practice, and new weird thing I would learn, like uddiyana bandha, was thrilling to me.
Eventually after years of practice things became stale, dried up, boring. Mechanically, I would get up and do my sadhana, more out of obligation than passion. My commitment to my practice was strong, but my heart had waned.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
In the beginning, it was all heart for me. I was passionate, not only about the physical aspect of yoga, but even more stoked about the esoteric, subtler practices and experiences that were available through these ancient teachings. A series of serendipitous events led me to the Bihar School of Yoga in India, the world's first yoga university and ashram.
My heart burst open there as I participated in the daily karma yoga, and kirtan. Every night after dinner, all 400 or so of us living at the ashram would file into Jyoti Mandir where we would sit down on the cold marble floor and be led through kirtan chanting.
A swami would start the kirtan. Slowly. Sometimes out of tune. But always with the sweet sound of devotion that seeped into my bones and lifted my spirits. The drums would begin, hitting my solar plexus and awakening the fire within. Before long my heart was picked up in a frenzy of ecstatic love and joy. The vibration of the chanting was the master key. Without fail, it cleared out any stagnation in my mind and body.
There were nights I found myself on the lawn outside of the kirtan hall, dancing to the sound of the chanting. Or rather, being danced. This was pure bliss. This was yoga. Yet, how come I couldn't sustain my enlightened, blissed-out state all day long?
Chanting is one of the doorways in, for me. So is skiing, scuba diving, dancing and laughter. A taste of perfection. A glimpse of the Divine. So fleeting, so elusive, so transient. Or is it?
What I have come to understand and surrender to is that in every mundane and boring moment of my life, is filled with the essence of the Divine. When feeling down, agitated or unsupported, it is I who has disconnected, who is looking for a certain flavour or feel to how things should be.
I return to my breath. I feel into my body. I allow my awareness to funnel down into my heart. This is where Divine connection lies. It is not outside of myself – that is the illusion. When all of the pathways of mind and heart are clear, the essence is love. Love IS.
Yoga has provided us with wonderful tools to clear what is in the way of experiencing our true nature, love. Chant, sing, dance, chaturanga, whatever-just don't forget that the love is within, waiting to burst forth. Our job is to let it.
Boost Your Yoga Practice with Meditation for the Heart Chakra
Learn the art of mindfulness and loving kindness — the foundations for living with an open heart — in The Yogi's Heart, a guide for opening and connecting. For it is only when you approach life from a place of openness can you embody connectedness with all things.