I was watching a wonderful documentary series this week that featured individuals who have achieved success by following their passions and living according to their principles. By honouring their heart’s calling they’ve inspired countless others, some of whom were featured in the series. The series warmed my heart and was an affirmation of the efforts I’ve made over the years with respect to my journey. And yet, there are so many of us who are blocked at the heart level and perhaps aren’t heeding its call because we can’t hear it.
We learn through yoga that the mind is more than the intellect and the stuff of the brain, but that “mind” exists throughout the physical form, including the heart. We can learn to access the smarts of the heart if we so choose. When practiced in a systematic non-exercise’y way, yoga has the capacity to break down the armour that encircles our hearts. Think of all of life’s challenges from those early years until now and how they block the heart. As kids, if we didn’t receive the unconditional love and support from those raising us armour built up. If we were in any way abused or wronged those scars may persist.
As adults, if we’ve not done the healing work and matured to a stage of emotional intelligence to get past these blockages, our hearts may still be locked up in a self-protecting shield. When this shield is cracked open and light penetrates the heart, we can truly begin to blossom.
This heart-centred approach to living is not unique to yoga, but it is at the foundation of much of the teachings. Teachers often offer heart-opening practices with a view to helping students access the power of the heart. But it’s not quite that easy. What I’ve learned over my two and half decades of studying yoga is to open the heart you actually have to start at the root - the centre of most of our primal issues.
When we adjust, change, shift the energies in the pelvic floor and root centre the healing journey begins. This work helps to move us from our most base fixations and fear-based living. Thankfully lots of physical yoga practice affects the pelvic floor whether the student or the teacher is honing in on this aspect of practice or not. Shifts will begin to occur. Students will start to expand their understanding of who and what they are.
Energies in the sacrum and lower abdomen are also impacted helping our creative juices to flow and getting us to a more unique place of self-understanding and self-identification. The I’am’ness we talk about in yoga is centred here, as opposed to the tribal connection at the root centre. There is an evolution of awareness.
The energies of the gut also get churned through yoga practice. Learned teachers will help students connect to the digestive and integrative forces of the belly and offer techniques to enhance these. Once these forces are animated and begin to work more effectively students are able to process their life experiences better. I like to say students can better digest food and their life when these forces are engaged.
Once these lower three energy vortices are addressed then the fourth centre - the heart - can be truly accessed.
The opening of the heart is not easy and is riddled with a lot of emotional releasing - not that the lower three energy fields are immune to this. But we all know what heartbreak and pain of the heart feel like. When your practice is shifting, adjusting and changing the forces of the heart the pain experienced can seem overwhelming but at the same time deeply healing. When the student has developed stability through their practice - the work of the lower three energy centres does this - there is a knowing that moving through the pain is almost a right of passage for deep awakening.
From the first weeks of yoga teacher training in 2004, I found myself crying in those weekend sessions. This perplexed me but I decided just to go with it. Later with reiki work, I experienced more deep energetic healing which was most strongly (and painfully) felt in the heart centre. When I did my master level yoga training the tears still flowed with certain practices or activities. Up to that point, the tears definitely felt like they came from a place of healing, from the pain being released. But then there was a shift. As my understanding of tantra expanded the perception of my journey shifted.
One of the definitions of tantra is to be touched. In other words to have your heart touched. When tears flowed from that point on they felt like tears of joy, tears that connected me in a powerful way to truth, meaning and purpose. Like everything in yoga, this is an experiential thing that words can’t fully describe, but the seeker knows the meaning.
I’ve learned through my journey to follow my heart and live a life of purpose. The path is not always crystal clear but the destination most definitely is. This journey is our birthright.
If you struggle with hearing your heart’s calling, living a life of purpose or still feel like you’re trying to figure it out, I’d be happy to chat with you about ways your practice can be adjusted to achieve the results you deserve.
Go ahead and book a complimentary chat. What do you have to lose?
Be well. Be whole.