I felt blessed to be a student at Donna Farhi’s recent Yoga Intensive in Christchurch – The Heart Aroused. This was an amazing experience… an opportunity to sit quietly, to connect with my body, to hear the soft whisperings of my heart, to bring the attention back to my belly center and the intelligence that resides there. The intensive was a lovely combination of informative powerpoint presentations, joyful Kirtan, active, therapeutic and restorative Yoga, iRest Yoga Nidra sessions, meditation and throughout the Intensive live music by the very talented and conscious Prahbu. It really was something and the feeling in the room was so very warm, safe and loving, providing the perfect container to look deeply within.
I learned many things and have chosen a few to share with you.
• The heart feeds itself before feeding the rest of the body.
This really resonated for me. The importance of looking after oneself, tending to ones needs – so you then have the energy, the capacity, the open heart to support others.
• Chanting is powerful!
The pure and utter joy of singing… encouarging my heart to soften and open, and the vibrational energy to escalate in my body. It was ‘soul satisfying’ to sit quietly at the end of each Kirtan and feel what we had created together in the room.
• The beneficial relationship between the heart and the diaphragm.
The heart is nestled directly on top of our diaphragm and it supports the heart in it’s job of pumping blood around the body. Therefore full, natural breathing where the diaphragm moves freely is really important for health of the heart and the whole body, mind and spirit.
• Tension in the outer body can be created by tension held in the inner organs of the body.
This was an eye opener for me. I have been dealing with extreme tightness in the left side of my neck and also tightness/tension in my left shoulder and the thoracic part of my spine. This has been a conscious holding for a good couple of years now, partly by injury and partly emotional. To help with this tightness I have been looking at and working directly with the outer musculature of these areas, doing practices that hydrate, soften and release. These have been really helpful but when we worked in partners at the Intensive, working with creating movement and opening in the lungs I was amazed how this dramatically softened the tension in my neck and shoulder.
Not only are my neck, shoulder and upper back tight but I discovered my lungs are tight and held, my heart is restricted, squashed and caged, and my diaphragm full of fear! I can see how these areas of tightness, of restriction are all inter-related and manifest in a number of ways in my life, including this very obvious and in-my-face tension in my left shoulder and neck. I love discoveries like this… I have so much to play with here, to explore and it was beautiful to feel my heart softening and opening. What an exquisite and liberating feeling!
• We have a second brain in the gut.
This has now been scientifically proven – the gut has it’s own intelligence… the enteric nervous system. What this really cemented for me is the importance of reconnecting with this belly center ‘hara’ and listening to those gut feelings and instincts. Our mind is always so loud and in this society we tend to, and are encouraged to, listen to our heads and live our lives by our heads, but there is a wealth of knowledge in our gut. I’m sure many of you have experienced those times when your mind is saying one thing but if you tap into your gut, into that deep belly center you will find it’s saying something else.