I remember when I first started Anusara yoga, and the teacher said to ‘melt your heart.’ I really didn’t get it, and I am still in the process of “getting it.” In fact, I always will be, and that’s one of the wonderful things about yoga. Forever a student.
One of the first thoughts I had when I realized this was an actual theme in Anusara was of Gelsey Kirkland, a ballerina I idolized when my life WAS ballet. Her first book Dancing On My Grave fascinated and scared me. Her passion for dance and perfection drove her to severe anorexia and cocaine abuse. It scared me because I wanted that intensity. I wanted to let the passion overtake me and drive me, to give in completely to it and see where it took me.
Her next book The Shape of Love amazed me. In it, she was coaching a dancer in a role that she had herself danced. She was trying to get the dancer to stand up from a chair with her heart. Over and over, she told the girl to try again. I forget how long it took (over an hour), but she would not give up until the dancer initiated and continued her movement with her heart. Gelsey really strove to get to the root of things. She was obsessed, but the beauty of the purity of what she strove for changed my view of dance and ballet forever.
Now, half a lifetime later, I am again tapping into that part of myself in both yoga and dance. Some days are better than others. I am different now. I am older, stiffer, bigger (not saying much, since I was anorexic then), a mom of a teen, and a doctor of pharmacy. For years, I went against my heart, and instead went to school. I did dance for a bit during that time, but realized I had to finish my degree, so quit dance yet again.
During that long 10 years of my life, I tried to compensate by being a gym rat, running in a marathon, competing in endless triathlons, and then cycling. When I broke my hip in 2008, I couldn’t swim or run, so I ended up sticking mostly with cycling for the next 3 years. For three years, I was bent over a book or a computer and bent over my bike, cycling ’round and ’round in a uniplanar existence. Head down, I plunged ahead toward my goal of a terminal degree, striving for excellence, pushing, pushing, pushing my limits all the time.
Now, my psoas is tight, my sciatica is flaring up, and my heart is barely peeking through it’s little house. So, I did what I always do when I need to get back to my roots. I started yoga class.
Enter Anusara Yoga into my life.
I found myself quickly emerged in a practice where the benefits carried themselves over into my life off the mat. I am learning to listen to my heart, to feel my heart, speak from my heart, and one day to move from my heart.
I bring this all up because of an article I read today titled Love As Alchemy. It spoke of receiving love through our backs behind our heart. Our backside, the Divine, the unknown, where we build trust. The Love that is always there. I have had a painful tightness for about 2-3 weeks now right behind my heart, between my shoulder blades. I almost feel that if I bring my should blades together tightly enough, my spine would pop. Many times, I have wanted to ask someone to press on it, for it felt like if someone pushed really hard, my spine would pop and release there, and the pinching would go away. I figured it was from the kayaking I did, but I should know better. It’s my heart, which has recently been through a lot.
I had been thinking of being a channel of love, rather than collecting it behind my heart. I guess there are multiple ways to view it. You can move love through you, soaking it up to nourish your soul, then giving it your flavor and offering it back into the world. You don’t hold onto it like a material object, but it forever changes your make up. Your cells come alive and dance, and you FEEL love. Your heart swells and glows, radiates and pulsates, with the in-pouring of love. And love is all around us. When we open up, we can fill that well, nourish our cells and our soul and offer it back to the world.
It can be scary to open up our hearts, but we are only opening to divine grace, so what is there to be afraid of? Afraid of being fully me? Afraid of my own beauty and brilliance? That’s silly, and yet it happens. And so the mission to open and receive love so that we may transform ourselves and offer love back to others continues.