One Student’s Story through Life Enrichment
Savoring the Essence – Opening your Heart
How sweet it is… how “juicy” it can be to simply sit in meditation, practice asanas, or even have a conversation when we begin to recognize our unique essence, when we occasionally and regularly release the outer world and savor the deep pieces of ourselves. Module Four of this YogaMotion training was just this opportunity… a chance to feel the“juiciness”, and even giddiness that results from exploration inward and then the practice of opening outward. Our practices were centered on exploring our inner essence particularly through meditation, through developing a relationship with our vijnanamaya kosha (the layer of the wisdom and intellect), and also by way of a thorough investigation into the anatomy and function of the shoulder, especially as applied to backbending and heart opening.
As I muse over this weekend, it is interesting that many of the words that come to mind to describe it are words that we would use to talk about good food… juicy, yummy, savory, sweet and balanced. When we share time and a good meal with loved ones, we release a hormone called oxytocin. Among other things, it helps to promote a sense of connection with others. (Oxytocin is also released in high quantities after childbirth, promoting that unbreakable connection between mother and child). When you have the gift of deepening into your dynamic and exciting essence, it intensifies your relationship/connection with yourself and ultimately with others… probably increasing oxytocin release. Our practices over this module and the related homestudy seemed to have that effect of deepening connection and thus, generating similar feelings as when having a really good meal!
We had several asana practices focused around opening the heart and backbending. Guest instructor, Susie Walby (certified Anusara teacher), initiated this exploration with a fiery practice. The backbending was playful and intense throughout the weekend… a strong thread that connected the activities and the participants. In these asana practices, we were challenged also to experiment with some partner work- the result: heart-opening and community-building. Paralleling the physical practices were interwoven conversations about the meaning of “opening your “heart”. Are we making choices that support our heartfelt desires? What are you devoting yourself to? Personally, I am back to where I started but on a deeper level- I am devoted to my family, to my work, to my yoga practice and to play! The friction comes in finding the balance. We need inward exploration, but then sometimes , we also need to be challenged from the outer world so that we can see our progress. Some might have the view that a path of personal development requires you to step away from your life, to isolate yourself. But, then, when do you REALLY get to practice? I don’t desire to go live on a mountain top and meditate the days away. I desire to live and interact, and “juice” the nectar out of each moment. Am I there yet?? Nope (ask my family). BUT, despite the daily stressors continuing, the sweet moments are becoming more and more accessible.
In general, what I am noticing at this point in the training is an expansion in my perception in the practice of yoga. As I have mentioned before, I have been studying yoga for about eight years. I realize that in that time, I had only begun to understand the concept of yoga being more than what happens on the mat. A few weeks ago, I picked up the book Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar. It is a book that I have owned and read for years now. As I read recently though, I realized that I was taking in the ideas on a much more complete or “whole” level than ever before. I found that I was no longer reading about someone else’s practice, but MY practice. Though I am still a beginner (and hope to be for the rest of my life), when I study now, my reference points are increasingly internal, my reference points are from a growing library of my own personal experiences of yoga practice. Thanks to Nancy for creating this training in which I imagine we are all getting something different, but all getting what we need.
Karen Stenseth, N.D., CYT