“Head down, Heart open”. Christina Sell, a yoga teacher I know and love, recently presented this theme. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of taking classes and courses from her and I’ve always appreciated her insights on applying yoga to daily life. In one of her posts about this theme, she shared that “Head down” part is to focus on the work that is right in front of us and ours to do, and the “heart open” part is the willingness to respond with love to what is going on. To me, this is an important balance that we can apply to both our yoga practice and daily living.
“Head down” is what can cue us to look inward and pay attention to what is going on within ourselves. This internal reflection is what guides to ask questions like, “what is going on here?”, “how I am feeling right now?”, or “what is arising within me?”. When on the mat in our asana practice, if our “head is down”, we aren’t worried about what anyone else is doing or thinking. Instead, we focus on what we are doing and feeling as we explore our inner landscape moving our body from one shape to another.
“Heart open” is what allows us to answer the questions generated from looking inward, by noticing what we need. For instance, if we are struggling in a particular pose, from the mind we can notice exactly what is happening – “where is the challenge?”, “how does our body relate to space?”, “what feels stuck or in discomfort?”.
From an open heart, we can decide what is needed to answer and respond to those questions. We may discern that we need to back off, shift our alignment, move into an alternate version of the pose, or add the support of a prop. Because our mind is heavily influenced by our ego and perceptions from what we have learned and experienced, its response is limited, but the heart carries the innate ability to be expansive. The heart can offer great insight, not bound to the thinking mind and rooted in the purest source of our existence – love.
The purity of love does not judge, ever. It never forces or asks us to do anything that is not in the highest service of ourselves. It doesn’t compete or compare, shame or condemn. It only seeks to serve the goodness in all things and paves the way for compassion, for ourselves and for that which is outside of ourselves. Love is more than an emotion, it is a state of being. If the source of our entire existence is love, then love can be the guide in how we respond to anything we are observing in our own life and the world around us. Love can bring clarity to balance the introspection of the mind as we make these inquiries and guide our response.
Root in love. Your very existence is love. The spirit of grace, compassion, and humility will always flow from love.
With love and gratitude,