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This week's installment of Yoga Living Project comes from Erika de la Cuadra wrapping up this month’s theme on love. Use the ideas below on the quest of getting your heart right by asking questions and doing the hard work of loving yourself first. Do you have something to contribute? We are also always looking for guest writers so please reach out at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you’re interested!

 

 

What is there to say about love? Its abstract qualities make it difficult to discuss in comparison to a true interaction with love. To be clear, I’d like to acknowledge that I know pretty much nothing about love. I wonder, what is there to know, anyway? It is an experience and I am just beginning to understand it (with only slightly more clarity than I had in the past). Just as yoga encourages us to show up to the mat day after day, even and especially when we don’t want to, love continues to call on us to do the work even and especially when it’s hard. We are called to act on behalf of love to serve in this world.

 

The experiences in our lives thus far have shaped our current tendencies of love, causing aversions and attachments that present themselves in our friendships, romances, and especially in the quality of our self-love which is at the center of it all. As mentioned, practicing love is not always easy which can be exacerbated by our tendency to judge ourselves along the way. This deters us from the mountaintop of love and can even dig us deeper into a hole. So in order to commit to a healthy practice of love, one with ease and grace, it’s important to keep self-love the top priority. Acknowledge your feelings, tendencies and actions with as little judgement as possible. Commit to trying your best in the future but release attachment to the results - this will grow patience as you make progress- however slow it might feel, it will be real.  While the past experiences that mapped out the paths of our hearts all differ externally, the underlying theme is found in the mere reality of our human experience.

 

Ram Dass says that at our core, we are Loving Awareness. Within this idea, we can begin to examine our intentions. Love is rooted in truth. If it is not, it is not pure, it is not truly love. With these guidelines, ask yourself, are you abiding by Ahimsa (non-violence) toward others and yourself in all actions? At this checkpoint is it’s especially vital to omit judgement upon yourself and evaluate your intentions through a lens of self-love.

 

Continuing to nourish the love within ourselves comes the expression of gratitude (not just feeling, but expressing...otherwise how much weight does it really hold?) Gratitude transforms a mindset of scarcity to an awareness of abundance. When we act from a place of abundance, honoring and respecting all that we have and the sacred life offered to us, we enter and sustain relationships from a place of service. Within these relationships, we must acknowledge our dependencies. Being self-sufficient with our hearts means removing the need of external validation and tapping into the divine within ourselves. Otherwise we risk feeding toxicity, which once again digs us deeper into the hole and farther away from the truth in love.  Within the quest to be self-sufficient with your heart is the practice of Astheya (non-stealing). While we may have outgrown our stealing-candy-from-the-drug-store phase, are we still taking what is not ours in the form of unjust energy, time or attention?

 

The steps in this practice can be so fruitful because they illuminate misconceptions in your thoughts and actions that are rooted in ego instead of love. It’s a powerful chance to turn obstacles into opportunities, for the benefit of yourself and the world around you.

 

As some Bhakti yogis might argue, unconditional love and devotion are the ultimate practices of yoga. Bhakti Yoga is the practice of devotion. At the essence of practicing Bhakti, in search for this connection to the divine, is honoring and respecting all life, and to strive for purity of thought, action and word. That sounds like a lot…like a lofty goal in which you need to be a super-yogi to achieve. Well, that’s why we call it a practice and not a perfect. The most straightforward way to find this purity, though, is through love- to invite love, grace and compassion into your life at every chance you get until you truly rest in love and only love.

 

So I return to the original question. What is there to say about love? Simultaneously a lot and very little. Enough talk, though, go now and practice. Acknowledge your feelings every step of the way- without judgement to yourself but with motivation for continuous growth and dedication to the practice. When you can love, love. When you find more room for love, witness it.

 

Love calls on us. We are here to serve love.

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Yoga is a way of life and should be accessible to all.

 

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Everyone is perfect just as they are. Everyone has their own path and is at a different point in life.

 

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