Energetic Heart for Yoga Teachers -- Our Collective Power
By Shiva Rea
In partnership with YogaDownload.com, on Sunday September 25th, Shiva Rea will lead thousands of people from all over the world in a special yoga practice for peace, service, action and the UN’s International Day of Peace, live from the National Mall in Washington, DC. Join by signing up for Yoga Download’s free live stream of the event: click here.
Every teacher can feel the shift that happens in the midst of teaching when the collective energy in the class begins to synch. It is a palpable sense of connectedness - a heightened quality of flow as movement, breath, and embodied awareness come into flow. As you may know and feel, our heart has a tremendous role in such shifts of consciousness that we feel at the heart of yoga.
I have spent the last three years immersed in writing about the syncopating power of heart rhythm in creating individual and collective states of flow whether we are in stillness or in motion. I researched the world’s spiritual traditions from the Judeo-Christian to Sufi culture, and across the traditions of yoga from the Vedas to early Tantras and found a universal vision of a “heartfire” or the energetic heart. Despite several hundred years of a limited concept of the heart as purely a cardiovascular pump, western science is returning to an understanding of an energetic heart and can now measure the electromagnetic field of the heart which not only extends beyond our body but has a central role in creating individual and collective flow (Heart Math Institute).
When we come together, the electromagnetic field of our heart begins to “sense or read” the heart rhythm of each other. This happens naturally as heart rhythms either begin to syncopate together to create a sense of “coherence” or “dissonance” between people, i.e. harmony or resistance.
Through the process of writing my latest book, “Tending the Heart Fire – Living in Rhythm with the Pulse of Life”, I have begun to see how practical and effective the techniques of yoga are in accessing the energetic heart not only in creating internal flow but in collective flow. I began to understand meditation is the syncopation of our three primary rhythms – breathflow, heartrhythm, and our brainwaves. When these rhythms are in synch, we are at our highest state of functioning – individually and collectively and our heart organ literally serves as the rhythmic conductor always trying to bring us into a state of harmony or “yoga”.
The shadow side of human nature in approaching life as a competition effects the yoga room, teachers and studios. Within the “business of yoga”, we need ways to cut-through this tendency of separation and subtle dissonance. Creating community and drawing upon the practice of yoga in collective flow is one of the smart and most rewarding ways of sustaining your classes and studios.
In 2007, I started the Global Mala Project to connect the larger community of practitioners beyond any one school or style of yoga to practice forms of a “mala” for 108 times for UN International Peace Day to raise consciousness and funds. From large-scale gatherings in Newark, NJ and Washington D.C. to over 40 countries around the world, the Global Mala has continued as an open process that any yoga teacher-studio can join in your own way as a free event or in a regular 1.5 – 3 hour class or as a fundraiser to support any organization that connects to your community.
Since leading yoga mala (108 Surya Namaskar, meditation cycles, mantra) practices all over the world in the last two decades, I have experienced some of the most profound collective experiences in these 1-3 hour Yoga Mala practices of unified breath. The activation of the collective energetic heart may sound corny but it is a palpable energetic shift that raises consciousness and community.
I encourage you to activate community and join the Yoga Mala on the week of September 21-25, the Fall Equinox/UN International Peace Day or at any special time of the year to bring a shift in your teaching community. Whether you bring teachers together in one studio or amongst many, you will feel the support and renewal of the heart of yoga when the news of the day is often so disheartening. We must massage the dissonance that is so easy to reinforce and draw upon the power of yoga practice for the revitalization of our energetic heart – individually and collectively. May our inspiration keep the inner fire of our practice, teaching and studios in vitality.
This article was originally published on Yoga Alliance.
Shiva Rea, M.A. is a yogini firekeeper, sacred activist, global adventurer and leading innovator in the evolution of prana flow yoga, transformational vinyasa flow integrating the tantric bhakti roots of yoga, Krishnamacharya's teachings and a universal, quantum approach to the body. Shiva is known for bringing the roots of yoga alive for modern practitioners in creative, dynamic and life-transforming ways and for offering the synthesis form of prana flow out in the world. Shiva is the creator of Prana Flow Yoga, Yogadventure Retreats, Yoga Trance Dance for Life, Moving Activism for 1,008,000 Trees, the worldwide Global Mala Project, Yogini Conferences and E2: The Evolutionary Edge Tour. She writes for Yoga Journal, Yoga Plus Joyful Living, is the author of award-winning CD's and DVD's, and contributor to many publications and features
Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in: 2016 Catalyst, Issue 16: 11 Days of Global Unity & International Day of Peace