Expanding our Consciousness

This week I used the theme in my classes that I had used for an asana portion of my workshop on the Yoga Sutras last month:

Expanding Consciousness in the Heart Through Devoted Practice...

In order to deepen and embody greater Consciousness in the practice it is necessary to first consider why we practice yoga.

According to Anusara Yoga, we practice:
  1. To know who we are - and to know the essence of our True Self - which implies that we must deepen and embody our conscious awareness of who we really are.
  2. And for the sheer delight and enjoyment of the practice.

Nischala Joy Devi in her book - The Secret Power of Yoga - which I referred to last month, notes that this secret power is knowing that we are really divine in nature - truly made in the image and likeness of God.

She interprets Sutra 1.2 beautifully from a more feminine and life-affirming perspective:

"Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart."

"Chit" is the Sanskrit word for consciousness, and Nischala Joy Devi invites us to note how consciousness is directly connected to our hearts - and not to our minds or our thoughts.

Many are presently reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth which is Oprah's current book club selection. This book literally enables the reader to transform and transcend their level of consciousness by making a profound shift in perspective through the realization that we are more than our egos. This is what the Yoga Sutras sought to teach.

When we embody the First Universal Principle of Alignment in Anusara Yoga - we "open to grace" and we directly connect to our hearts. This practice is heart-oriented and a celebration of the intrinsic goodness of all persons and all things at its essence.

Yoga is a path that directly connects us to our hearts and expands our consciousness. How do we experience this? Through devoted practice.

Nischala Joy Devi renders Sutras 1.12 and 1.13 in the following manner:

"Consciousness is aided by the cultivation of devoted practice."

And,

"Devoted practice cultivates the unfolding of consciousness."

So - by the practice - we come to deepen and embody greater consciousness. And conversely, by devotion we discover the Divine spark within us manifested as an expanded consciousness.

Ultimately, what we are doing by practicing is - seeking greater wholeness. We become a bigger container for our expanding consciousness...

Yesterday, in poses like Anjaneyasana - I encouraged my students to unveil their hearts - this place where consciousness unites and resides. I invited them to shine out their deepest essence which is a part of the Infinite Stream of Consciousness - like an ocean - uniting all of our individual manifestations of consciousness.

I say to my students:

Let us then, begin our practice with the commitment to embody greater consciousness - and to radiate our True Selves - recognizing that we are divine in our nature and infinite in our capacities and abilities.

(Concluding remarks tomorrow...)

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