“The Heart of Yoga” | Letter from the Director | August 2019

On occasion, I have heard claims that yoga is not a cardiovascular activity, or at least not a significant one. Upon hearing this, I discovered that such claims are often made by those who have yet to experience the practice of yoga or a least a style that is more physically ambitious. 

There are points in both the Modo Yoga and Modo Flow sequences in which you arrive on your belly side, flat out on the floor, stopping to rest and find presence. Feeling that precious pound in the chest as your weight settles on the floor, there is no denying that your heart is working full-on, delivering the sweet message that your entire circulatory system has responded to your call for action.

There is much more to this sensation than the reminder of how powerfully our hearts are working. This moment in your practice is also a supreme time to reconnect with the magic and the gift that you are to those in your life.

If you were born during the early 1960s or later, it’s very likely your midwife and/or obstetrician used a Doppler fetal monitor to detect your heartbeat while in your mother’s womb. This monitor catches the more prominent sounds within and delivers them through a speaker for others to hear. If you’ve ever heard the alien-like, squishy rhythm of a fetal heartbeat coming through that speaker, you can relate to the feelings often felt upon hearing that sound.

Typically, the response to experiencing that sound is elation, as the heartbeat sings a song sounding so unique and precious that the listener cannot help but feel something in their own heart, and their facial expression usually confirms their experience. That’s because this is heart speaking directly to heart. The listener’s heart recognizes and opens to the magic that is transmitted from your heart—the magic that is you. It’s similar to the first contact made at feeling the kick of a prenatal child in the mama’s belly, and the subsequent jubilation of feeling new life beneath the surface of skin. It’s simply amazing the impact you had on others in that way, at that time.

What is crucial to remember though, is that the magic you were, and the impact you had on others, never dissipates. You are as miraculous on this very day as you were in your prenatal life, if not more so. Others may not see you as so, simply because they have either formed expectations of you that you don’t meet, or they’re so busy on their own soul journey that they forget and no longer feel your full magnificence. It’s also very likely that you have done the same—not only toward them, but more importantly, yourself. 

Reconnecting with the raw and palpable power of your heartbeat is not simply an acknowledgment of your biomechanics. Consider it a reminder of how wonderfully magic you are and the potential impact you continue to hold for others. May it also be a reminder that others hold that gift as well, for when we realize that the scientific explanation for that pump and related fluids moving in our bodies can be broken down and explained only so far, the remainder of this mysterious explanation of what moves through us is left up to choice. What will you choose that moves through the rivers of your wonderful body? Clarity? Humility? Self-compassion? Gratitude? Beauty? Choose wisely and feel it, for what’s more important than how hard you think your heart should work or what style of yoga you practice, is how you actually feel once you step off your mat.

See you in the practice room,

Don