Nurturing Independence with Yoga: Practicing Compassion

August 16th, 2014

about compassion

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

There are many ways to nurture independence with Yoga. There are also many different kinds of independence. Of course, there is the independence that comes from robust physical health. If you have ever experienced an injury or surgical procedure that has taken a substantial amount of time to heal, you are well aware of the sense of dependency that less than optimal physical health can create. This state of dependency can be very frustrating for many Yoga practitioners, especially those of us who are used to being quite independent. Many of the physical postures of Yoga help to strengthen and heal the body, so that an optimal state of physical health is nourished and sustained.

On a less visible level is the psychological independence that many of the practices of Yoga nurture in a committed student. For instance, if you struggle with an anxious mind, taking the time to switch from “doing” to “being” while you rest in a Shavasana is an important first step towards expanding into a state of peaceful awareness. The system of Yoga practices and techniques is quite diverse and comprehensive. If a Yoga student practices several of these techniques regularly in a balanced manner, the beneficial effects of the practice are magnified tremendously.

Many different traditions of Yoga offer service to the community in which they are located. This feeling of compassion and generosity naturally arises when the mind and body are balanced and the heart is open. Nurturing a feeling of compassion, by releasing the constriction around the heart, will dissipate feelings of isolation and the judgment of oneself and others. Dropping into our own hearts with sensitivity and awareness is one of the primary internal gifts that a regular practice of Yoga offers to us. The ability to reside for a period of time in our own hearts, with loving kindness and compassion, will enable us to carry this same compassionate energy into the world.

When we are able to drop into our own heart with a feeling of deep compassion, we are more able to truly love ourselves unconditionally. This does not mean that we are completely off the hook for our own wrong doings! It simply means that we can offer ourselves the loving kindness and forgiveness that so many Yoga practitioners offer to others, both near and far. It is often more challenging to allow a feeling of soft compassion to arise in our own hearts for ourselves, than it is to feel compassion for those who are struggling 3000 miles away from us! When we are able to extend a feeling of compassion to ourselves, we are also freed from past mistakes and are more able to become independent of patterns of thinking and behavior that are no longer serving our highest good.

* Reclining Goddess Pose

This Yoga pose is a very simple way to slow down, release tension and drop into the space of your own heart. To further facilitate the sense of relaxation and rejuvenation, you may wish to use blankets to support your knees and an eye pillow to help support you to focus internally. If you are using these props, place them near your Yoga mat. To practice Reclining Goddess Pose, lie back on your Yoga mat and place your legs in a diamond position with the soles of your feet touching. If you are using blankets, fold them and place them under your knees. If you are using an eye pillow, place it over your eyes now.

Position your left hand on your Heart Chakra and your right hand on your belly. Very gently breath into your heart – Feel the rise and fall of your belly as you expand your inhale to fill your entire heart area. As you continue to breath, visualize a soft, warm, glowing pink light flowing through your left hand into your Heart Chakra. Gently dissolve any mental objections or feelings of unworthiness that may arise by continuing to breathe as you fill your heart with the divine love of the Goddess. Hold Reclining Goddess Pose for five to ten minutes, and then roll to your right side and gently push yourself up to Easy Seat on your Yoga mat.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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2 Responses to “Nurturing Independence with Yoga: Practicing Compassion”

  1. Masud Parvez says:

    Many physical yoga postures help to strengthen and heal the body, so that an optimal state of physical health is nourished and sustained.

  2. Marry Wilson says:

    Nurturing a feeling of compassion, by releasing the constriction around the heart, will dissipate feelings of isolation and the judgment of oneself and others.

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