Yoga Makes Love Space

In my yoga practice I enjoy the heart opening poses. There are many benefits to drawing the shoulders toward the spine and down. Anyone who uses a computer for any length of time each day can see the value in reversing the hunched back and concave chest. This opposite action gives the lungs more room. The body can breathe deeply adding a higher measure of oxygen to the blood which in turn increases brain function.

There’s another benefit. One of the things I found delightful about yoga in Bali was the opportunity to experience teachers from all over the world. Sitara, my petite yogini from India whose manipulation of English was always entertaining, insisted that the heart opening poses create more ‘love space.’ Sometimes it’s a stretch for my Midwestern mind to embrace the less tangible aspects of the discipline. To imagine that by thrusting my sternum forward and breathing deeply I will invite more love and compassion into my heart is an idea I would like to simply accept without the skeptic in me saying, “Seriously?!”

The thing is, the longer I devote myself to a regular practice of yoga the more I notice subtle changes that have nothing at all to do with the physical and everything to do with attitudes and perceptions. While my body becomes strong and flexible, my mind and heart are getting an unexpected overhaul. I find myself thinking more clearly. I am seldom worried. Instead I feel intense joy just being alive. Emotions touch me more deeply and I have a new tenderness toward myself and others.

Shortly after Sitara made her comment about the results of heart opening poses, I was wandering Ubud streets that I hadn’t previously explored. I came upon this two-story hut and the unique sign advertising its function. The whole concept was so incongruous I stopped dead in my tracks and stared. I’m sure I had the open-mouthed, glazed eyeball look going on as I tried to assign some appropriate meaning to the sight before me.¬† Failing that, laughter came bubbling to the surface and I laughed and laughed and laughed until my face was wetter from tears than the usual rivers of sweat.

I eventually pulled myself together and continued on my way contemplating the strangeness of life. What are the chances I would stumble upon this landmark and have Sitara’s lesson so humorously¬† reinforced. For me it was an affirmation, a synchronistic sign that creating more love space is a vital piece in my continuing evolution.

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