The Heart of Practice
The ‘heart’ plays a significant role in what I practice and teach in yoga.
It’s a power place in the body and can be a focal point for practice.
In Sanskrit, the word for heart is hṛdaya which translates to mean a number of things: the centre or core of something; essence; Self.
From a traditional yoga point of view it is key area in the body where we can place awareness and feel into the innermost layer of the being.
We can use this focal point in our practice to transform our perceptual experience from a sense of feeling separate or alienated to one of deeply felt connection and wholeness.
Across cultures the heart symbolises and embodies love. The highest kind of love that transcends difference. The kind of love that heals; the kind of love that transforms, the kind of love that recognises at our essence we are all the same.
For me the ‘Heart’ embodies an expanded state of awareness which is the goal of yoga.
By connecting with the energy of the Heart we can feel our own essence which is expansive and part of everything.
Heart-based practice is utterly transforming - the unifying power within the body and being that is niṣprapañca, never not there, becomes known and felt - nurturing and hugely compassionate.
Invoking this inner experience through the various yoga practices can happen in a number of ways.
First by simply placing awareness at the heart - both physically and subtly. Shifting into felt-sensation; sensing inwards through the breath and literally opening up this part of the body and being through knowledge and intent. This involves learning how to move through and feel into the different layers of the being.
Both active and restorative āsanas (poses) that open up the body, especially the heart region, can heighten felt sense and awareness of these layers that lead to the core or essence; āsanas can also facilitate the flowing forth of subtle energy, or what we call prāṇa, which enlivens and invigorates the form. We practice āsanas to draw forth this vital essence which stems from the core of our being.
Prāṇāyāma (breath exercises) and meditation further expand the flow of prāṇa and can focus on the Heart drawing forth the inner felt experience of spacious, pure being - the essence of Heart-based practice.
Chanting certain Sanskrit mantras with intent can also be helpful in raising awareness of the experience of the Heart. Certain mantras resonate with expansive energy and can be like a key that opens the door inwards into the essence of being.
Over this weekend of workshops one can expect a gradual experience of softening, opening and feeling gently connected to one’s own heart along with, perhaps, a renewed sense of purpose and belonging - an experience of deeply felt peaceful spaciousness.
This weekend is open to everyone. I’ll lead it in a way that’s inclusive and gives options. The wide variety of practices offered will give different ways for people to engage with the ‘Heart’ focus for the weekend.
Come and enter into the space of the Heart!