(by Shiva Rea)
This is an adapted version of the article that first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit Issue 39, Autumn 2014.
THE CALL WITHIN
My heart is burning with love. All I can see
is this flame. My heart is pulsing with passion,
like waves on an ocean. I’m at home, wherever
I am. And in the room of lovers, I can see
with closed eyes the beauty that dances.
Behind the veils intoxicated with love,
I too dance the rhythm of this moving world.
Tending the Heart Fire is an offering from my heart to yours. Through my thirty years as a student of yoga, I have come to recognize the great truth that the human body is a universe—and that it is one and the same with the cosmos itself. Our bodies are literally made of the same materials that surround us—dirt, rocks, plants, rivers, oceans, and sunlight—and the wild and creative pulse of life that actuates the universe exists within the body itself.
Within this Heart Burns a Fire
Fire is at the core of our existence. From the original primordial fire of the big bang to the generative energy of the sun, all life depends on light and heat for creation and survival. Our Heart Fire, the energetic center of our bodies, functions as a pulse of life, just as the sun functions as the life pulse for our solar system. As the sun radiates the heat that warms the planet and animates all life, our hearts pump blood and nutrients throughout the body and send electromagnetic waves outward that connect to the world around us. There are hundreds, thousands, of examples of how our external environment and our bodies work in unison. As such, the vinyasa, or flow, of our bodies—what we eat, when we sleep, when we create, when we rest—seeks to be in harmony with the natural rhythms of the natural world and our source of energy, the sun. Just as the length of days increases in spring and summer and releases a great generative energy that allows for new buds on the trees and a great expanse of green to blanket the earth, our bodies experience windows of potential for creation. And just as the world around us darkens in winter, our bodies seek to move inward, to rest, and to reflect during the season of winter and in the night. The cycles of time are mapped in the body—and when we attune to those internal and external forces, we are able to experience enormous peace, harmony, creativity, and longevity.
This living in deep attunement to the natural rhythms of the planet is what I call “living in flow with the pulse of life.” Yoga is infinitely more than the now well-established world of movement practice that has branched out into studios across the world. Yoga, too, is a universe, and it is a gateway through which we can live in harmony with the solar and lunar rhythms that dominate our biological and spiritual experience in order to find optimal flow in our lives. The word yoga means to “yoke,” or, in other words, to “unify.” Thus, in the yoga of the heart that I offer in this book, we seek to reintegrate ourselves with the natural flow of our bodies, guided by the warm, central wisdom of our Heart Fires.
Living Vinyasa:The Background and Principles Guiding the Book
Tending the Heart Fire is a life-guide book, an offering of meditations centered on the innate wisdom of our heart and the rhythm of the seasons. The book includes more than 108 such meditations, ranging from sound to movement, and from ayurvedic health practices for balancing our inner fire, or samagni, to ritual bonfires for the solstice. These meditations are a tapestry woven from what I have learned through personal experience and from the wisdom traditions I have studied, including yoga, tantra, bhakti, ayurveda, and natya (dance).
Where to Begin: Tending the Heart Fire
The book invites you to take a journey into the legacy of firekeeping that is more than 800,000 years old. I want to pass on to you the inspiration of the legacy we’ve been given by our ancestors, who observed the cosmos and created daily practices, rituals, festivals, and celebrations to align themselves with the deeper rhythms of nature. Our whole body is synched with nature to preserve this balance.
The Direct Awakening of the Heart: Bhakti and the Mysticism of the Heart
Since my beginnings in yoga three decades ago, tending the Heart Fire has been my personal dharma. The direct awakening of the Heart Fire often happens when we are at a crisis point, when we fall to our knees, when the armor of our heart has to crack. The mystic heart is the awakening of direct experience that each one of us can access by tending the fire of any spark of love, bonding, inspiration, truth, or passion. This is the fire we can see in each other’s eyes that leads to a waking up and to serving life in all forms—your own sacred activism.
The teachings and practices of yoga have always held the heart in both practical and mystical ways. So let us return to the power and magnificence of our hearts: heart as fire and heat. Heart as intelligent energy and electromagnetic radiance. Heart as our illuminating guide toward love, creativity, and deep knowing. May the journey begin now, as we awaken our direct relationship to our Heart Fire, both primordial and intimate.
Shiva Rea, MA, is a pioneer in the evolution of vinyasa flow yoga. She founded Samudra Global School for Living Yoga based upon her worldwide travels and her studies in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures program, as well as the roots of yoga in tantra, Ayurveda, and dance. From transformative home practice DVDs to large-scale festivals, Shiva offers yoga as a universal pathway for self-realization and awakening positive change for all.For more information visit her website shivarea.com
Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life