How would you react if you went to a weekend yoga retreat and the first thing the teacher did (a teacher you’ve never meet before or knew anything about) was start the class by sitting quietly, and then opening his eyes, spreading his arms wide and looking around the room…for a sustained period of time? My reaction was, “This is going to be weird.”
But, that was until I realized this teacher would be talking about seeing beauty, recognizing there is love everywhere, and that we all are deeply loved and should celebrate that love. Of course he started the class with his arms spread wide!
The retreat was hosted by Todd Norian of Ashaya Yoga. The teacher he was hosting was Dr. Bill Mahony, and the name of the weekend workshop was “Devotion in Motion.” I went to the workshop with my wife and the timing of the workshop was perfect because it was over the weekend of both of our 50th birthday’s. A special shared retreat together. Bill’s subject for the weekend was based on the teachings of Bhakti (pronounced buck-t) Yoga. Bill has written a book, Exquisite Love, which is a commentary and reflection on the Narada Bhakti Sutra. Those sutras are what we talked about over the weekend.
Basically, what I learned from the weekend is that Bhakti Yoga is about spreading your arms wide and taking in life with an open heart. The Bhakti Yoga practice is the practice of love, wherever it can be found. Maybe you find love in a relationship with your spouse, maybe with a child, maybe walking outside, maybe reading. The practice that brings love/Bhakti to your heart doesn’t matter, the end result of love is what’s important. It’s very much about the idea that love is a shared experience. As Bill said, “We share our truest heart with the source of our heart.” Isn’t that beautiful. :-)
If you have ever studied any type of philosophy, whether it’s western philosophy, sutras or tantra philosophy, you know that it’s about contemplating meaning. Here’s a few of the sutras we talked about and studied with Bill over the weekend, for your contemplation:
#2 – Having known which (bhakti), one becomes ecstatic; one becomes stilled; one comes to delight in the Self.
#53 – It reveals itself wherever there is an able vessel.
#60 – It is of the nature of peace, and it is of the nature of supreme joy.
#76 – Teachings on bhakti should be reflected on; practices that awaken it should be undertaken.
Isn’t that just awesome stuff! This idea that love creates delight, that we need to prepare our vessel for it, that it makes us happy, that we should do things that cultivate it – really great. Like most spiritual teachings, the message is extremely obvious, and it’s incredibly profound all at the same time. It’s a reminder that these things we’re supposed to do, like be happy or feel love or be good, even though they might seem simple, can be elusive. If we could be the way we know we should be all the time, we’d do it. But, it’s not always easy.
There’s just something incredibly wonderful about being reminded that we all can experience and feel the power of love, that we already have love within us (whether we feel it or not), and that a little bit of practice can go along way to experience the essence of love in your heart.
I highly recommend seeking out Dr. Mahony and his workshops to learn more about this wondrous method of yoga. If nothing else, for the joy of being around someone who truly embodies Exquisite Love, and to be embraced by his arms spread wide, his wide open heart.
Fabulous Fridays! — Supersonic Spring Soul Revival
Tickets: $15 - available at the door…but..buy now ticket guarantee your spot!
Where: ArtsRiot, 400 Pine Street
Date: Friday, March 28th
What: Fabulous Fridays! is about practicing yoga with friends, listening to great music, celebrating your own personal light, seeing the light in others, and loosening up with a bit of dancing, singing and laughter!! This class is open to all levels of yoga experience. The only requirement is you come with an open mind for fun.
Theme: Supersonic Spring Soul Revival
This next installment of Fabulous Fridays! promises to be awesome. We will celebrating spring with 2 hours of soul music, yoga, and friends – what could be better! The whole purpose of the practice, really, is to have good, clean fun. We practice yoga, but also do our best to laugh and enjoy being alive.
Very much hope to see you there.
Fabulous Fridays! on May 9th
This will be the last Fabulous Fridays! until September, so I hope everyone can be there. :-)
Date: May 9th
Tickets: $15 - Buy Now!
This is the sendoff before the Summer break. Make plans to be there for and celebration being Illuminated!!
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