A Green Post
Practicing yoga allows us to listen to the center of our being, our heart center, where Divinity resides.
Exactly a week ago, I taught a yoga class about the heart chakra with Yogadevotion’s Embodied Lenten Journey. Simply put, the chakras are wheels of energy or light that exist within the subtle body. Chakras have certainly popped up more in popular culture in the past few years, much like yoga. Just the other day I found a book titled The Chakras Activity Book & Journal at Target. My exploration of the chakras has been ongoing, and one day I hope to share that journey with you. For now, I’d like to reflect on this very simple interplay of love, nature, children, Jesus, yoga, and the color green.
When Cindy first asked me to teach this class I was shocked at the synergy of God’s hand. I have always loved the heart chakra, but there was one time in particular that has remained an integral part of my yoga practice through the heart chakra. It seems my best stories come from my training with Next Generation Yoga which is where this story begins.
We were playing a game. The goal of the game was to get one person to perform an action by a lead of applause. Think of it like saying “warmer, warmer” but using claps instead of voice. I was the one who was “it.” I walked out of the room while they discussed. I slowly walked into a very climatic slow clap. I moved throughout the room noticing I was not only drawn to the chakra hanging on the wall, but my friends were clapping louder and louder. I touched the hanging on the symbol of the heart chakra, the painted color green. The applause was even louder until suddenly I drew one hand to my own heart while the other hand was on the hanging and everyone went crazy! That moment of pure joy will never leave me. How lucky was I to have the guidance of other amazing women leading me to recognize my heart’s center?
While planning the heart chakra yoga class, I kept this story in mind. I wanted to focus on heart-opening postures and strengthening the shoulders to create an all-encompassing practice centered around the heart. From there I envisioned Anjali mudra or prayer hands. Anjali in Sanskrit means benediction or reverence, perfect for our faith-based yoga practice. Likewise, Anahata, the name of the heart chakra, means unbeaten or unwounded. Being attentive to the heart transforms our soul to be unbeaten and repairs our heart to be unbroken, unwounded.
Now the location of the heart chakra is quite interesting. In the Western approach to the chakras, there are seven located along the spine, so there is a clear mid-point. This mid-point binds the lower and upper chakras together. You guessed it, this middle ground is the heart chakra. By gazing at the heart center from the meta-view of the chakras, we see its centrality, the hinge on which we become fully connected. This idea reminded me of the gem we find in an often misconstrued New Testament: “And above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). Love is our glue in yoga and Christ.
Love goes beyond Christ, though. We know that before all, there was God. God gave humans this beautiful Earth we walk on. Each plant that exists provides oxygen for us to breathe, a selfless act from the green things around us. This beautiful air moves into our bloodstream and unites with us. The essence of nature exists within every beat of heart thanks to the ingenious creation of God. We pull in a fraction of sacrificial love with every breath!
Absorbing this idea, I was reminded of a book I loved hearing as a child: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. If you have never seen the cover, it is washed in bright lime green, a color certain to awake our heart chakra. So in savasana, while many people were confronting their exhaustion, I read adults a bedtime story.
“And the tree loved the boy.” The tree kept giving and giving out of love until it had nothing left, and yet the boy still loved the tree and needed the tree for refuge, a place to be still. In Lent, we are reminded each day that Jesus kept giving to us until he had nothing left, and yet he still finds ways to give to us today.
“For God so loved the world…”