Experiencing Bhakti Yoga In SF!
The word Bhakti has several definitions.
One that stands out the most to me is “union through love and devotion”. One would think that love and devotion are inherently present in each and every practice, but that is not the case. No two practices are ever the same; just like no two days are ever the same.
If you practice first thing in the morning, it takes a while to become fully present. Sometimes the only love you might recognize is the love of your bed. On some days, your body is itching for the physical sensations that practice delivers. It takes a minute for your mind and heart to catch up, if they even manage to. On the days that Bhakti comes into effect, you arrive at the mat, tall and proud for the love of this thing called yoga that manages to create divine unity within you. These are the days that the love of the practice comes alive.
On the day that Bhakti comes into effect, it doesn’t matter what your physical practice was like. You could have had the worst alignment and been unable to make certain shapes that you know so intimately well, but you don’t care. You still feel good because your body wasn’t in charge of your practice that day anyway. Your heart took charge and claimed that practice for its own. Every once in a while, I encourage you to listen to the sound of your own heart beating before you practice and allow it to lead.
You can also find teachers and classes that incorporate Bhakti into the practice in order to guide you. You don’t need someone to illustrate how to use a prop or an advanced posture; you need someone to set the mood. I took Peter Walters and Nat Kendall’s Bhakti Kirtan Flow and, boy, did they set the mood. Peter set the tone by sharing inspiring and relatable thoughts on the practice being so much more than the delicious physical flow we can experience. He then passed the baton to the musically gifted Nat Kendall and he led us in Kirtan, call and response. Yeah, sometimes you have to fake the words in the response part but who cares. It’s all about letting go and allowing yourself to fully participate in the experience. Nat harmoniously provided the soundtrack to our class and Peter led our bodies through a challenging and thoughtfully sequenced class. Like a good duet, Peter’s alignment cues were as solid as Nat’s singing. Instead of taking deep sighs out the mouth, we were encouraged to sing along. How lovely would it be if every sigh were a song?
Yoga is a crazy heart opening experience that encourages the heart to be more present and vulnerable. I encourage you to participate in Peter and Nat’s class; they are offering a series in May and June. You can sign up on MoveWith.
MoveWith is the first teacher-centric fitness community that leverages the power of social sweat to get more people moving in ways they love. The website and mobile app make it easy to book unique classes - from hip hop yoga to meditation to bootcamps and beyond - with San Francisco's best teachers, creating community and meaning around every workout. First and foremost, we believe that people motivate people, and we're here to shorten the distance between students and the fitness teachers they love.