The Forbidden City, and other heart related stories (plus the myth of the yoga teacher)


Yoga teachers are just as damaged, depraved, sordid, angry, insecure and proud as everyone else, perhaps the only slight difference might be is that some are more aware of their flaws. But that isn´t a given, there are plenty oblivious to them also. People are people. I´m not excusing abhorrant behaviour, merely observing the fact that we are more similar than we might like to think. We have feelings. We get hurt. Exploited. Taken advantage of. Pissed off. Irritated. Fed up. Lost. Angry. Furious, even. Exhausted. Whiney. Grumpy. There´s a whole range of drama going on within all of us in the wrestle of the upward and downward spirals. What can make all the difference though is connecting the inner to the outer and finding balance between them. Cue fourth chakra (Anahata) shout out:

One of the prime areas of balance in the heart chakra is between mind and body. This occurs through learning to decipher the body´s messages. This involves distinct inner listening on the part of the mind to the body´s subtle communications and often leads to recovering memories, working through traumas, releasing stored tensions, and completing unresolved emotional transactions.
Anodea Judith Eastern Body, Western Mind 

What is really going on? Why do you feel that person is taking advantage of you? Is it because you´re annoyed with yourself for not taking advantage of an opportunity that you had hoped for yourself? Why did you snap at a loved one? Is it because you haven´t cleared the air about a mishap they are not even aware of? Why do you feel teary? Have you made some time to be alone with yourself and listen to what you need? Why did you criticise that person behind their back who was only trying their best? Are you putting yourself out there and living life in the most truthful, wholehearted way?

Quickest way in to have a word with yourself via the heart. Trust. Feel. Listen. What do you need? Is there something you can do to change your state? Can you put aside pride and ego? That means being selfish enough to focus on your needs rather than tending to everyone elses (which is also a great mask to addressing yourself, who knows the buildup of resentment projected onto innocent bystanders due to this technique!). Can you engage with you (no screens) and sit, and be within the confines of your space? Your heart, your centre, your home?

Props to Vilde Braanaas!

But what might come up if that were to happen? Generally the reason so many of us avoid the exercise of getting close to ourselves is the taboo and fear of having to acknowledge and address certain feelings and behaviours.  Perhaps we will have to get off our backsides and do something about that dormant dream we have been putting off for, forever, or have that difficult conversation that has been weighing on our hearts for too long. By getting closer to ourselves and acknowledging the walls guarding these “forbidden” feelings and reactions, we may well end up tearing them down and actually make changes to improve our lives! Goodness! Well, i´ll say it again, one of the greatest mantras my Poppaworm taught me, is “better out than in”. If you feel it, feel it. Address what is going on. Acknowledge it. Only then can you release it, and move onward! Anodea has more words of wisdom:

Self reflective consciousness is the process of beholding. In therapy, we stop and look at ourselves – at our motives, actions, goals, hopes and fears. While there are many who are cynical about this process, some kind of systematic self-examination is essential if we are to evolve…It requires conscious attention to change patterns, to create something new, in short, to evolve. Without examining what has been, we are destined to repeat it. Without cultivating consciousness, we are caught in repetitive loops, neurotic patterns that we repeat again and again. Self-examination is essential for establishing the balance that is the central principle of the heart chakra.
Anodea Judith Eastern Body, Western Mind  

If you´re struggling to get past the restrictive walls around the forbidden city of the heart (sorry…), heart opening yoga postures are a great way to engage the area in the chest, space behind the heart, ribs, and shoulderblades. I´m talking puppy, half frog pose,  FishCamel, essentially ALL the animals getting down. Some of us might feel a physical and emotional release which may leave us feeling vulnerable, scared, teary perhaps. It´s ok though, “better out than in”. Be reassured that shifts are good, it´s part of letting go, moving forward and fusing the body-mind connection. Breaking down those walls of resistance that keep you from yourself, your truth and our centre.

Teachers and students alike, we are human, and meant to feel, hence why we have feelings.This is part of the experience. Let no feeling be forbidden.

So what can you do today to stay in the heart?

Loads of love from my pulsating organ. Oh and here´s a Spotify playlist for your hearts and ears!

CFCF – Exercise 4 (Spirit)
Four Tet – She Just Likes To Fight
Pinkunoizu – Time Is Like A Melody
Serge Gainsbourg – Couleur Café
Suicide – Dream Baby Dream – Long version
Jose Gonzalez – Heartbeats
Sébastien Tellier – Le Long de la rivière tendre
James Blake – Measurements
Jon Brion – Phone Call
Youth Lagoon – Bobby (Bonus Track)
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Sébastien Tellier – Un Narco en été
Bahamas – Lost In The Light
The Abramson Singers – Fool’s Gold
Bob Dylan – Girl From The North Country
Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Atlas Hands
Thomas Dybdahl – a love story
Jape – At The Heart Of All The Strangeness
Kings Of Convenience – Scars On Land

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