Backbends: The Joy Beneath the Suffering

3 11 2009


There is JOY beneath the suffering

“Start where you are”.  Those are the words I heard today after I completed some intense backbends on the mat today.  Where they came from I’m not quite sure.  What is clear is that I could not deny the immense sense of compassion I felt after experiencing those words when I took them inwards.  It was right there that I felt the opening of some sort of intangible presence I harbored inside.   Quite remarkable what a pose that expands the heart center can do.

Starting where we are is essentially, accepting what is.  Acceptance of the very moment that presents itself, again and again and again.  It appears to be the most challenging request presented to us. But in it lies the liberation of suffering we all seek.  Its when we fight what is before us that we get entangled in the chaos,  and the mess of it all.

I notice when I let go of the resistance I allow acceptance to manifest and the movement of life simply flows much more gracefully.  Acceptance is also COMPASSION for what is.  We honour the present and embrace all of it, even if it looks a little ugly.  COMPASSION is liberating, and more freedom means more joy in every moment of this life.


Where is COMPASSION cultivated?


Well first and foremost we look to the heart, which is the seat of compassion within our energetic bodies.  This is the center of our chakra or energetic meridian system.  The heart center is where love begins and really never ends.  The problem is often this area is surrounded by “enemies” as Patthabi Jois has put it. Unveil the heart chakra and you have an eternal elixir for living in joy, freedom and true fulfillment. 

I realized today in my yoga practice how a backbend is simply not just a way to stretch and lengthen all the veterbrae.  But going deeper it truly is a remarkable way to OPEN the heart center and invite more compassion to reside there.  We always talk about “creating more space” or lengthening to feel more spacious in our bodies in yoga practice.  Taken beyond the physical, the space is created on an even deeper level.  We create “space” within our hearts to let go of the past, the frustration with self, the anger or scorn or the self abuse.   The space loosens all of this.  We then “Start where we are” and step into that space and begin to feel the joy already present within. 

I’ve seen this remarably help soo many people in my practice and work.  Recently working with HIV positive men, I offered to guide them with a visual meditation that allowed them to connect to their seat of compassion. They realized how powerful the act of self love truly is to healing and living a liberated life.

  Its amazing how connected we all are.  I don’t know what it means to have HIV,  but beneath all of the suffering is something I still can relate to.  Which is fear and resisting self compassion.  We have all experienced this.  We often are our worst critics and having an acceptance of exactly the present moment is the only way to freeing the reality of pain and suffering.


In these HIV positive individuals I often see shame and hear their feelings of abandonement, mainly attributed by the societal stigma placed on them.  Having the belief that there is love and ACCEPTANCE already present within themselves begins the liberation and allows the “space” for healing.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Would we treat an innocent child the way we often treat ourselves?

How do we learn to nurture the act of self love?

Start where you are. 

Then get on the mat 😉


YOGA Suggestions for your next practice:

So to cultivate and encourage the health of the heart center or heart chakra try the following practices:

  • BACKBENDS- one of the key types of asanas to open and create space in the heart chakra area.  Full wheel, bridge, standing, camel pose are all great poses to accomplish this
  • BREATHING- Next practice you do have the intention that every breath you take in, is coming into the heart chakra area, which is directly beneath the sternum.  Visualize breathing right  into this area instead of the nose.  Observe the amazing things that happen from this alone.
  • MEDITATION or PRAYER:  visualize the heart center opening, expanding, and full of light.  THEN FEEL IT.  Let go of the visual and just FEEL the sensation there.  Stay with that sensation.  When your mind wanders, go back to the body and visualize and then let go of the visual image and GO INTO FEELING whatever is there.  I can’t begin to describe how powerful this can be.  Start with a few minutes, you don’t have to feel meditation needs to be a whole hour long.  Start where you are 🙂


Be gentle with yourself.  Travel lightly.






10 responses

3 11 2009

Amazing post. I’ve been trying really hard to be consistent with my yoga. This has inspired me.

3 11 2009

Hey there!

Thanks for the feedback. Just believe in the process. The pose is always evolving. we never get it done, and thats the most precious thing about yoga!

4 11 2009

I just started following you on Twitter and am looking thru the blog now. I am already on the path of very healthy eating and exercise. Now I am interested in yoga. I am a bit nervous to take my first class. I feel so clumsy and uncoordinated. This blog is helping me gain the courage.

4 11 2009

That was absolutely awesome of you! I am currently working on a new blog post on “how to begin a practice” and how I started! wow talk about universal connections! If you have any questions pls message me, and I’ll help you out!

Just remember , be kind to yourself, take it one pose at a time, and you can never fail at this 🙂


4 11 2009

Yogaheals…I am Hefron04 on Twitter. I have always been into fitness and a healthy lifestyle so I feel like I am on a path that should lead to yoga as it helps bring it all togther. Mind and body. I have had some serious health challenges in life and have always felt stress relief and state of mind were equally as important as the traditional medical treatment they were giving me.

10 11 2009

Wonderful post in so many ways. So true and very well written.!

27 11 2009

Amazing, I did not know about that up to the present. Thankz.

4 02 2010

Great post! And especially relevant for me because my yoga class last night was *entirely* about backbends. I felt so much more open and expansive today, and I know it’s a result of my practice last night. And kudos to you for bringing up the topic of self-acceptance. I’m dedicating my entire 2010 to self-love, and am having a great time doing it!

Keep up the great work:)

4 02 2010

Thank you for replying and reading my blog!!

Lovely! Just beautiful to hear your story! Keep opening the heart, and loving light will follow you everyday! Namaste!

7 02 2010
Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl

This is a beautiful post! I notice a HUGE difference when I really just allow myself to focus on the yoga poses I’m practicing – instead of on all the other things I “could” be doing.

So glad I followed over from Twitter – great job!


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