Namaste my friends!
Yoga is not as much about the body nor is it as much about the mind. Yoga is actually about the heart. This is why, my father the great TKV Desikachar titled his book “The Heart of Yoga”, because in Yoga we are talking about the role of consciousness, the role of self-realization, which is existing in the heart.
This is also a paradigm shift between the ancient oriental knowledge and moderns scientific knowledge because when ancient knowledge talks about the mind, they talk about the place of the mind being in the heart. Whereas the modern science talks about the place of the mind, the role of the mind being in our brain. This is the interesting difference.
When we have to try to understand the Yoga science, we have to understand it from the way Yoga understands the mind which is that its place is in the heart.
Opening of Heart is very important in Yoga practice because the concept of “Sukam” and “Dhukkam” itself refers to the construction of the space in the heart. Sukam – happiness, Dhukkam – Sufferings. When we are in Dhukkam-sufferings the heart space is feeling constricted and restricted whereas when we are searching for Sukha the heart space is open and expansive. These are very important aspects of Yoga that we have to consider and that is why the opening of the heart is important. When we say the heart, again it is not only the heart as the organ that pumps blood but the heart centre. “Hrudhaya”. That is why many Yoga practices are tailor-made to open the heart. Whether we take Asana practice, whether we take Pranayama practice, whether we take Mantra practice, the goal of Yoga is to reduce the construction in the heart and to open the heart.
That is why in Yoga practices we talk about attitudes which is very important in the practice along with the practices like the Asana and Pranayama. Attitudes like “Mythri” – friendliness, “Karuna” – compassion, “Mudhita” – appreciation and “Upeksha” – the concept of non-judgementalism as well as those that are presented in the Yamas and Niyamas such as “Ahimsa” – Non-violence “Satyam” – to be consistent with our reality, “Aparigraha” – not to grasp too much, “Brahmacharya” – to be fiddle, to be truthful, to be faithful, as well as “Astaya” – non-stealing, not to take away that belongs to somebody else.
Apart from Yamas, we also have attitudes like Niyamas where “Soucha” – to have purity in intention, “Sanhosha” – to be content, “Tapas” – to reduce the toxic thoughts, toxic emotions that we have sometimes, “Swadhyaya” – self-reflection, self-enquiry and “Iswarapranidhana” – the attitude of not being controlling, not behaving the way where we want everything to act in our way but rather to be more accepting what happens. All these become platform for other techniques of Yoga to work. So these are all the practices which we have to include in our Yogic practices to open our heart.
Sometimes this is not so easy and sometimes we have certain techniques like Mantras, Bhavana which can be useful in opening our heart. Sometimes we are asking to touch different parts of the body which includes the heart, perhaps we use the Mantras to give the gesture of openness as practices that can slowly change the subconscious blockages, the subconscious locks that we have, that has made our heart closed.
All these, my friends, we need to look at it in a case by case basis because why somebody has their heart open and why somebody has their heart closed is subject to our own individual experiences in life. That’s why taking the guidance of a competent teacher who is our mentor we need to evolve such strategies that allow us to open our heart step by step in a safe manner. Lot of people are afraid to open their heart because of the fear of vulnerability. But in Yoga and traditional sciences vulnerability is the strength not a weakness. We need to face our challenges and accept them so that we can grow from them. It is very very significant. That is why opening the heart to one self first and then to the other is very very important.
So my friends, please remember, Yoga is about the heart. Take time to connect with the heart of Yoga which is nowhere but in our own heart.
Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher & CEO of KHYF