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Advanced Yoga Practices
Main Lessons
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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 221 - Expanding Heart Space  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
221.1 - Yoga, Christianity and Kundalini  (Audio)
221.2 - Bhakti, Kundalini, Self-Inquiry and Christianity
  (Audio)
221.3 - Bringing Kundalini from the Head into the Heart  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Wed Jul 21, 2004 3:39pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: I really enjoyed your writeup on heart breathing (lesson #220). I've been having good experiences with spinal breathing since beginning about 6 months ago, and this adds a new dimension. With regular spinal breathing I often feel like I am opening up inside into a boundless space. Sometimes it is just a joyous emptiness. Other times there are very pleasant sounds, like a trickling mountain stream, church bells, or music like I have never heard through my physical ears. Sometimes there are golden or multicolored lights. Sometimes no light at all. I don't know where it all comes from, but it is usually expansive and very very pleasant. This space seems to be in my heart, but infinitely bigger than my physical body. I tried the heart breathing at the end of my practices the last couple of days. Though I don't consider myself to be very religious, I come from a Christian background, and imagined breathing Christ into my heart through my third eye, and letting whatever impurities that are in there go up and out the eye with the out breath. Well, the inner space is coming alive with huge waves of love and compassion, and a sense of indescribable strength and purpose. It is amazing. I have been walking around like this after practices too. Is this Jesus Christ inside me? Or is it something else? Whatever it is, I want more. 

A: What a beautiful experience. It is a wonderful example of how spinal breathing combined with deep meditation and other practices will open the heart as part of the overall purification of the nervous system. 

This is the "heart space" we enter as our nervous system opens and our inner sensuality begins to rise. The sanskrit word for the heart chakra is "anahata," which means "unstruck sound." Sensory experiences come up in the heart space out of nowhere, and can be experienced simultaneously everywhere inside. The sounds are "unstruck," and the inner lights are "unlit." What is in the heart space just is, as if there is no cause and effect operating there, just a radiation of the qualities of pure bliss consciousness coming endlessly from within, and playing on our refined perception - an eternal fountain of bliss inside us. 

By inviting an influence into our heart space in heart breathing, such as our ishta (chosen ideal), there will be a filling that occurs corresponding to our openness and intention to receive truth and harmony. We all know in everyday life that positive intentions (and habits) expand our heart space and enliven us, and negative intentions (and habits) contract our heart space and deaden us. With advanced yoga practices, we are working on the opening on much deeper levels in our nervous system. So deep that our experience moves into the celestial realms - all contained within us. There, the negative intentions (and habits) are melted by the pure love of our divine qualities coming up from within, so the experiences of heart contraction becomes less and less, even as we navigate through this physical world where nothing lasts for very long. We continue to expand as we naturally identify ourselves more with that inside us which is all bliss and does not whither away. 

If we have a religious background and are inclined to use an ishta from our tradition, it can work very well for us in the heart breathing. It will work equally well for any person sincerely longing for truth through any tradition or belief, because it is the devotion we have for our ideal that stimulates the purification and opening in our heart. So too does our devotion/bhakti stimulate all of our practices through the connectedness of yoga, as has been discussed in previous lessons.

There is an interesting connection here with the practice of samyama, which was first given in lesson #150. Our expanding heart space is analogous with our expanding inner silence. We know that inner silence (cultivated in meditation) is the vast reservoir of divine power we let go into with our sutras during samyama practice. In doing so, we cultivate the expansion of inner silence in many directions according to the range of sutras we are using. This is expanding our heart space. We stimulate the expansion of our heart space in many ways during our routine of practices. The heart, while not often mentioned in the lessons, lies at the center of all we are doing in advanced yoga practices. This local spiritual energy center we call "the heart" eventually becomes everything. 

The opening heart is the means by which our inner silence, inner sensuality and ecstatic bliss expand gradually to encompass all of our surroundings in the physical world. Then do we experience the entire world through our senses in the same way we experience the heart space in these early stages of inner expansion, as you have described. Eventually, all the world is contained within our own expanding heart. Our outside becomes inside, and our inside becomes outside -- a divine paradox. That is unity -- Oneness. Then when we breathe out from our heart space, all the world is purified.

This experience may seem to be very mystical. Yet, it is rooted in the neuro-biological transformation of our nervous system that we cultivate through our daily practices. We are wired for it. We are all mystics in the making. 

The guru is in you.

Bhakti Related Lessons Topic Path
Christianity Related Lessons Topic Path

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Note: For detailed instructions on building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book, and AYP Plus.

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