I hope you enjoyed the weekend. A dry sunny May bank holiday …
This yoga term we have continued to focus on opening the chest, more specifically anahata, the heart centre. Spring brings us closer to the inhale and anhata, opening us to the possibility of change and growth. When the heart is balanced, we are able to connect with ourselves and others with compassion and integrity.
In asana practice, I have encouraged an awareness of the chest and space between the shoulder blades. They are connected. The heart space is (at least) three-dimensional. So often we cannot find that space in the upper back; there seems to be minimal awareness of it, until it aches. Watching you practice in class, clarity appears to be developing in your bodies. The relationship with the seated asana sequence of janusirsasana and maha mudra is bringing up questions and challenge. Last week we discussed sthira and sukha. Too much sthira brings rigidity; too much sukha and asana is ‘soggy’, although comfortable there is little to hold the mind. Asana, pranayama and meditation need both qualities in the right balance.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras Chapter 2.46: sthirasukhamasanam
Asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation (without dullness or heaviness)
- sthira = discipline, steady, stable, alertness
- sukham = comfortable, ease filled, freedom
- asanam = posture
The pranayama practice mirrors the ideas of the asana practice. The caring breath mindfully brings us to the sense of the heart – touch. When anahata is balanced we are able to touch and be touched, emotionally and/or physically. Symbolically, the caring breath brings the universe closer and allows us to give something in return.
We have had several readings connected to the ideas of love and care. This one I shared at the morning retreat which also focused on anahata and the quickening of the heart:
For Presence by John O’Donohue
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
With thanks for your presence, Yvonne