By Swami Satrupananda
You want to live your life with an open heart. You want everything you do to warm your heart.
You want your heart to overflow and to share that with others. This can be your physical and emotional heart, but it is only truly satisfying if it is the heart of your being.
When you show up full-hearted, it is about putting your whole self into it. Your body, mind, heart and more all show up — open and ready to give. This is how you want to live. Then even washing the dishes is fulfilling. It’s not about the task. It’s not even about your heart. It’s about your wholeness.
While you want to live from your wholeness, it can be challenging. You might have been hurt in the past, so you protect your heart. Your body might have aches and pains, so you’ve numbed out parts of your body. And there may be some dark corners of your mind where your scariest thoughts lurk. To protect yourself, you don’t go there. While you are protecting yourself from these pains, the result is that you don’t have your wholeness.
Yoga reverses this process. The yoga poses and breathing practices open up your body and breath, making you more embodied. You breathe deeper, have less pain and have a more capable body. Meditation and chanting open up your mind and heart. You have clarity, decisiveness and the ability to follow through with your decisions.
As your heart opens up, you are able to feel more love and to love more. And there are more dimensions of your wholeness that yoga opens up for you. One of yoga’s maps lists 36 dimensions of your own being.
The purpose of the yoga practices is for you to rediscover your multi-dimensionality and the wholeness of who you truly are. Then you can bring your wholeness into every moment of your life. To get to yoga’s promise, simply do the practices that are recommended. It’s like anything in life — you follow the instructions to get the promised outcome.
Patanjali, a yogic sage, gives us guidance on our yoga practice:
Sa tu deergha-kaala nairantarya-satkaaraasevito drdha-bhoomih
Practice becomes firmly established by being continued for a long time without interruption and with devotion.
– Yoga Sutras 1.13
Like everything in life, you work at something for a long time and without interruption to make progress. The same is true and necessary when you are opening up to your inner wholeness. You do practices every day. Every day you re-open again what has closed down as well as open up new dimensionality.
Bit by bit, you open up more and more of who you truly are. The incremental changes delightfully creep up on you. Then something happens in your life, and you realize that you have changed. There is more of you here now.
Pain is a great motivator to do the yoga practices. It is painful to be closed down to the multi-dimensionality of your inner wholeness. This includes physical pain as well as mental and emotional pain. Pain can motivate you to begin your yoga practices. And pain can motivate you to continue your yoga practices for a long time and without interruption.
And Patanjali tells us that devotion is also needed. You need to put your heart into your practice. This comes naturally as you love the practices, or love how you feel after doing the practices. But it is also about actively putting your heart into your practices. Then your yoga practices take on a new vibrancy as you put your heart into them.
I loved how the practices made me feel from the very beginning. This, along with pain, was a great motivator to consistently attend weekly yoga classes. Over time, this grew into a home practice and then a consistent daily home practice.
And, now, I do the practices because I love them. I also love how they make me feel. And I do the practices because of my devotion to those who shared them with me.
My Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, shares the teachings and practices with me. As a Shaktipat Guru, she fuels the practices with Grace, the power that reveals to you your inner wholeness. I do the practices out of devotion to Gurudevi, to the Grace. I feel there is no better expression for my gratitude and love than doing the practices.
So, do the yoga practices because you love to do them or because you love how they make you feel. The more yoga practices you do, the more you know and you be your wholeness. Then you bring the whole of you into your life. This includes your heart and so much more.
Then you have not merely a full-hearted life but, more importantly, the wholeness of your being. You have a “full-You” life. What a glorious way to live!