Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

I'm so pleased to be heading back across the Bay this Saturday to teach another master class at Oakwood Athletic Club. It's a beautiful facility full of warm and welcoming yogis, and this time around, we'll be digging into some fierce heart openers and deep hamstring stretches.

"Heart openers" is, of course, really an evasive way of saying "backbends," but since many people tend to clench up and run away when it comes to backbends, we've discovered that it's a bit gentler to call them heart openers. Semantics, of course. But not ironically, learning how to sit lovingly with that kind of fear and clenching, though, is of course a central part -- if not the most important part -- of the whole process of surrendering into deep backbends like Kapotasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana. Coming into the full expression of those poses, which embody such a complicated blend of vulnerability and strength, is really as psychological a process of opening and softening as it is a physical one.

Desiree Rumbaugh wrote a thorough piece on heart openers for YJ awhile back, enriched by her background as an Anusara teacher. Check out what she's got to say:
Why is opening the heart so important? Because all of us have, at one time or another, been hurt by deep loss or betrayal that caused us to armor or protect our hearts. Whether you've been brokenhearted by a relationship or a huge loss, it's natural to put up a protective shield that prevents you from getting close to people. But your deepest wounds can also be opportunities for growth and transformation. By learning to open your heart, you'll gradually be able to forgive, let go of resentment, and release fear. You'll also be able to let people in again. Ultimately, when you live with an open heart, you'll experience more love and joy. You'll be better able to listen to people, to accept them for who they are, and to respond to them from your deepest essence, which you access through the heart.
True that. Read the whole piece here. Then give some of Rumbaugh's softening, surrendering, heart-opening backbends a whirl. And I'll see you Saturday afternoon in Lafayette for a few more.

Bare Your Heart (YJ)


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