Bhakti Yoga, the path of the Heart

Last week, I came home from a very special week in the US, in Essex in Up State NY, where I attended and assisted part of my teacher, Todd Norian, Ashaya Yoga‘s Teacher Training. It was such a unique and heart-opening experience where I got to deepen my knowledge about yoga anatomy, philosophy and techniques, refine my teaching skills, and serve the heart of all these wonderful and dedicated teachers to-be.

As part of the training we studied the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient set of eastern teachings. These teachings describe three paths of yoga: (1) JNANA YOGA: the path of the Mind, referring to our knowledge and “know how”; (2) KARMA YOGA: the path of the Body or service, calling forth our “doing power” and capacity for action; and (3) BHAKTI YOGA: the path of the Heart, drawing onto our ability to feel and express our intentions and desires, and to devote our work or actions to some greater purpose. While we need to cultivate the three in order to get closer to our dream and who we truly are, the Bhagavad Gita also explains that BHAKTI YOGA is the fastest way to freedom.

The word Bhakti comes from “Bhaj”, meaning to share, belong, being attached, and devoted. During the week, we did a so called “devotional” practice, where we worked in pairs. The first person chooses a person to offer their practice to, someone close to their heart who needs healing and support. The second person stands in front, fully present, representing the person the practice is devoted to. I and my friend Mary demo’ed for the whole class (picture below). As I moved, keeping in my heart a dear person who had recently gone through health challenges, I never felt so light. I was almost flying from one pose to the other, dedicating every move to the person of my thoughts. I experienced a major opening and felt truly received by Mary/the person of my thoughts.

When you do something from your heart, consciously dedicating it to a deeper purpose (for someone else, for yourself, or something greater), you become held by grace and move with ease.  What makes me feel alive and truly passionate when I teach yoga is to serve and awaken the heart of my students. So that they can feel good, heal, and be in balance. So that they can realize their deeper purpose and awaken to the person they truly are. So that they can recognize their unique gifts, which the world awaits to receive.

Yet I often get caught up in feelings of unworthiness or resentment, things I did not do well, that others do better, etc. This is typically when I only focus on the KARMA (action) or the JNANA (knowledge) paths. But when I remember the BHAKTI path, or why I chose to teach and coach to people’s heart, the work moves with grace and ease. I feel supported. And honestly, I feel so lucky and grateful to facilitate and witness your growth, dedication, and heart opening on a regularl basis. However, I also know I need to devote time to myself and prioritize self-care: down time, trips such as this one, time in nature, nourishing food, body work, and nurturing, playful social time. That makes me a better teacher, coach, friend, etc.

And you, what do you devote yourself to? How are you going to take care of yourself this spring and summer? 

 

Spring is Bhakti!

I know it can be hard to believe, but spring is here (or very close!). I love spring and the renewal that follow with it. It is nature’s embodiment of the Bhakti path. We get to experience the almost forgotten, auspicious openings of nature: trees and flowers blossoming, longer days, more and changing light and sky colors, animals coming out, etc. As part of nature, people are also opening up: smiling more, sharing more, meeting more… and being more eager to receive!

This year I am excited to invite you to several rejenuvating events, that I hope will help you renew and refresh after this long winter. I will be thrilled to support you into cultivating self-care and on your journey to the awakening of your heart!

With warmth and love,

Cedric

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