” We were not created to languish in lukewarm emotions. We were not made to be tepid. Passionate love is how our hearts grow and our health become the best it can be. We were created to love animals with the fullness of our heart. We were created to love the children of the world. That’s who we are. We are unbelievably loving individuals but we have to allow that love to come out, to choose it. A very important aspect of passion is tenderness. Passion is Fire, but it is also the deep water of tenderness. Passion allows the flowering of a daring intimacy. Through the communion of intimacy passion initiates the sparks of fire as well as the ripening of soothing words, tears, and smiles of tenderness. Fire and tenderness are both absolutely necessary for love….If I choose passion, I have to realize that passion is going to redraw my life. The passion within me is inviting the river coming from my heart of the Godhead. My life is going to be transformed .” – Evolutionary Love by A. Harvey and C. Saade. These lines have been my guide for the last several weeks. I have been looking at everything I do and especially the fire I have for my path of service in the field of Yoga and how it is informed by my passion for tenderness. This perspective that Harvey and Saade present in regards to fire and tenderness is embodied in the essential frameworks and teachings of Yoga: Hatha and Raja. Yoga in the modern sense has been formalized on foundational teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya. The essence of modern yoga is a blend of Hatha and Raja yoga. These paths together cultivate passion and devotion. The path of devotion is self-care, self-realization and self-empowerment. Hatha is often mis-translated to mean sun and moon. It means “to strike balance”, it is the act of harnessing active focus and attention to work with the prana/life Force through body, breath and mind in order for attainment of svastha- well being, as A.G. Mohan-ji states. The practice of Hatha yoga offers the tools of Pranayama/breathwork, Asanas/movement, Bandhas/energetics and Mudras/gestures to activate our Prana/life force. We learn how to stoke, manage and quiet the fire so to not burn ourselves up. Yet, like everything, they can be tools of poison or medicine; bondage or freedom. I believe, how they retain their rejuvenating and healing qualities is through Raja yoga. The paradoxical companion of Hatha yoga is Raja yoga, the path of meditation, as encouraged in the yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Raja means royal. It alludes to the qualities of nobility that are here for all of us. Nobility in the sense of being the caretaker of not a kingdom but the entire world. This path invites us to sit tenderly with ourselves, to study the corners and obstacles with kindness and compassion. It doesn’t call us to ignore, be violent or abuse ourselves or others as we create a world we desire to live in and world that prevails in peace. Currently, one of the top three questions I am asked from yoga practitioners is, how do I find my Dharma. The desire to serve is high, yet we are skipping some vital steps. First, is to know who is the one with the desire to serve and fulfill their Dharma. The practitioners who are “successful” in the fulfillment of the desire are those who have discipline and passion about first their self care. Sri Krishnamacharya shared these paths and asked each person to take control and pursue their own self care. For me, the ultimate self care embodies these qualities of fire and tenderness… Hatha and Raja…Yoga! So many people come to me and ask for advice how can I change the world, how can I be a change maker. The well being we seek must first come through the mastery of the self and the understanding of the fire that is needed and the tenderness of the path of being a change maker. We are on a trajectory in our human evolution that is not sustainable. We are more dis-eased than ever, mental health and addictions are at all time high. Chronic pain is rampant. Countries and governments are managing economies and people “gangster style”. Some of you may need to stoke your Fire. Find an intelligent Hatha yoga class near you, one that seeks balance not through excess, but through appropriate breath work, mental focus and movement to meet you where you are. Some of you may need to seek tenderness. Find a wise yoga class near you that invites slow, contemplative and restorative practices. Want to be a change maker? First, explore your own self care with passion? Then explore how you interact with people in your life. Get intentional, clear and directive with your self-care practices then shifts and changes are coming! Experience: Take 7 breaths. Inhale, feel the spine lengthen. Exhale, feel the body settle into right where you are. Inhale, feel the energy of fire rise through your spine. Exhale, feel the tenderness of energy as your jaw relaxes, shoulders soften and lower back settles, Inhale, feel your head sit comfortably on top of your spine and reach for the sky. Exhale, feel the feet rest against the earth. Breathe and observe. Ask yourself these questions: How do you cultivate fire in your life, list some specific things? How do you cultivate tenderness, list some specific things? What are three things you can start to do today to be ultimate caretaker of yourself? What are three things you can do to optimize how you interact and connect with others?
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