Yoga, Love & the Beloved

Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to the Divine

Yoga can be defined as union of body, mind and spirit. Yoga has many definitions, benefits and meanings. My yoga practice is like going to church, meditation, masseuse, chiropractor, psychologist, doctor and phys. ed. all in one. It is a spiritual practice that maintains my physical, energetic, emotional, skeletal and nervous systems. Yoga is beyond words, it is an experiential understanding. My practice continues to inspire and humble me, in such a beautiful way. I absolutely love yoga!

As a masseuse I know that human beings thrive with touch. Many studies have documented this fact, including working with new born babies, and people with illnesses. I personally believe that the healing power of touch with compassionate love is immense.  This is a fundamental element in Taoist and Tantric teachings. Personally, I value touch, affection and love; I love love, and expressing it in kind gestures, caresses, words, and actions. My spirit is an expression of love.

I have found that often in my life, my 'yearning for the beloved' has been a source of a wealth of feelings, emotions, challenges and growth. I am continually remembering that the 'beloved' is everywhere, within myself, in nature, in God, in the lovely people whom I see. Yet, I have always carried a deeper yearning, for my partner in love, my companion, in a healthy, supportive, committed, loving relationship. That is a beautiful dream; however, it is not manifest and the lack of it can be the source of much sadness. I vacillate between rising above my needs, and looking at the spiritual truths regarding true nature of the self and union with the beloved, as in Divine Spirit/God; yet, as a human being there is still a need for love, connection, intimacy and touch.

So, this dance continues, between wanting, not needing, rising above, yearning........etc. All the while I continue the dance of daily life. The mind is a powerful thing, and it's patterns are hard to break, no matter how many times I rise above my need for connection and intimacy, the program is entrained. I see it exist for others, and I know it is possible, yet it continues to elude me.

These thoughts can create feelings of sadness and negative emotions, which can be disruptive for my yoga practice and well being. That is where that real practice begins, in not letting my mental and emotional states deter my yogic practice. By commiting to do my daily Ashtanga yoga practice, I set aside (even if it be temporarily) any disturbances and fluctuations of the mind. Breath by breath I am present in the moment, uniting body, mind and spirit in this presence.

The beauty of it is, that soon enough the joy of yoga supercedes the fluctuations of the mind, sadness and negative emotions. By the time I am half way thru my practice I have experienced all the love, joy and touch that I craved from the beloved. Sweaty, steamy, stretchy, expansive, intimate, present, gentle, strong, loving and supportive......all the qualities that a good, loving 'session' should contain!

Then it is time for savasana, a time of rest and repose, allowing for the nervous, energetic and physical bodies to integrate the benefits of the practice.  I rise from my mat feeling completely refreshed and all my needs for true connection are met. I smile.....knowing that once again I have been my greatest lover, and through yoga I have 'union with the Divine', which is in me. Resting in a state of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) I cherish my blessings, and am love, loved, the lover and beloved. May this state of grace be always with me.

Ishvara Pranidhana: offering all to the Divine, seeing all as Divine, surrendering to the Divine. Ishvara pranidhana is a means to the ultimate unified state of yoga: Samadhi; dissolving the endless agitations of the mind. It is a path to freedom of the egoic concepts of "I" and individual concerns and perspectives that create the dualistic concept of seperation. It is a path to grace, peace, clarity, and unconditional love.....for all, including myself.

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