Cultivating the Yoga of Devotion
From A Yoga Mama’s Guide
8-LIMBS intuition YOGA AND PARENTING YOGA AND PREGNANCY
by Nischala Joy Devi
A WOMAN’S HEART
Honored by most traditions, a compassionate heart has become the symbol for devotion. It is often a female heart that is used as the standard for that devotion and love. In even the youngest of girls, care and nurturing for even the smallest creatures are intuitive and natural.
Motherhood has been anointed the apex of this love and compassion. Madonna and child was a familiar theme in the Christian church, even during times when wrathful images of the Divine were common.
Worshippers longed for a compassionate image to speak to their hearts, and to intercede with the angry father. In such times, the mother often soothes the child and the father as well. Cultivate loving devotion, and you may find that it transforms everyone around you.
A WOMAN’S TWO HEARTS
Women are graced with what is often referred to as the “womb heart.” It relates to the “beating heart” through intuition and feelings. This legacy of love is so powerful that it is able to sustain a new life. The beating heart and womb heart each hold the sacred essence of consciousness. The capacity of our “beating” heart expands greatly as we experience infinite love; the overflow feeds us and others. To my joy, I found one ancient attempt in the Old Testament of the Bible to express the Divine as Hiranya Garbha, or the Golden Womb, the source of all beings that resides within each heart.
For many women, when the womb heart begins its metamorphosis to embrace a new life, the beating heart’s capacity for love and devotion begins to expand. Our expectant mother now experiences three hearts within her: her beating heart, her womb heart, and the new soul’s heart within her womb. Three pools of Divine love. Is it any wonder we feel radiance emanating from an expectant mother? Everyone is drawn to her, with all three of her hearts active; she is directly sourcing Divine love.
When it comes to love and devotion, motherhood holds the secret. Even those of us who have never physically given birth have within us the capacity and intuitive preparation for nurturing. All too often, in place of our heart’s song, we listen to the intellectual values of our society cloaking our intuitive power. With grace, we can embrace both aspects, allowing the love and devotion to be channeled into the foundation of our lives.
One of the most sincere ways devotion can be expressed is through prayer. Try to find a time in your memory when you absent- mindedly repeated a prayer in your chosen place of worship. The words were being said, but they were probably being recited by the mouth, not the heart. For prayer to reach its full power, the heart must be the main speaker.
A HUMBLE OFFERING OF GREAT DEVOTION
In the twilight of the predawn hours, after taking a ritual bath, simple women in India gather cow patties. Chanting prayers, hearts overflowing with love and devotion, they roll the patties into sizable balls. After infusing the Divine into these animal waste products, they sweetly place a delicate flower on the crown of the mound. The women then make offerings of water, rice, and flower petals to further instill the Divine into the emerging form of Lord Ganesha, the elephant god and the remover of obstacles.
To those of us growing up in a Western society, this seems like a bizarre and unsanitary practice. If we look at it from this perspective, though, we miss the transformational aspect of simple devotion.
EXPERIENCING THE RHYTHM OF YOUR TWO HEARTS
In a quiet room, sit or lie comfortably.
Choose a simple chant or prayer that touches your heart in a very deep way.
Place one hand on your beating heart and the other on your womb heart. (Even if your physical womb is not there, the energy can still be summoned.)
With deep breaths say the prayer aloud or silently, and begin to feel the energy in each of the two hearts.
Notice if the energy of each has a different quality.
As the breathing and chanting continue, can you feel a balance of energy between the two?
With the balance, experience the flow of love you feel for your own child or loved one.
Then slowly continue to expand that love to others as it eventually embraces all.
Stay resting in that balance for as long as you like.
You can come to this practice anytime during the day when you discover you are missing that feeling of love. This allows you to embrace the Divine in everyday life.
Excerpted from The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi, 2007