Ashaya Yoga®: It's not about the Poses - It's about the Heart
Ashaya is a Sanskrit word that means "Abode of the Heart." Founder, Todd Norian, states "The word also refers to the Heart as a place of refuge, a sanctuary of the deepest aspects of the Self. Like a safe haven within, it is a protective harbor where we anchor the most treasured parts of the Self." The name Ashaya clearly points your personal GPS inwards - and recognizes the importance of a connection to your Heart.
You can see, Ashaya Yoga® is not about getting a "Yoga Body," having a killer workout, or achieving wickedly advanced poses. Don't get me wrong, I love having a yoga body (a body that does yoga), working hard in my practice, and playing with challenging poses. But these are the by-products and not the goal of my practice.
In some yoga classes the goal is to "master" a pose, or to get that great yoga butt. These goals clearly point your personal GPS toward the outward expression of the pose. When your focus is only outward it is easy to become perfectionistic, competitive, or judgmental, and to grow your ego through your yoga practice. It is also a rude awakening when an injury or aging begin to take the poses from your body. An outward focused practice is just one more way we buy into our cultural mandate to Achieve Achieve Achieve.
Turning your focus inwards, on the other hand, drops the expectation that you have anything to achieve while you are on your mat. Instead of being about how the pose looks or how deep it is, now the practice is about whether or not you feel more connected to your Heart. This kind of inward focus creates a space where judgement, competition, and the ego soften. In their place qualities like self-compassion, curiosity, play, and spaciousness can grow. These are the great qualities of the Heart that we try to cultivate through Ashaya Yoga®.
In Ashaya Yoga® we are consistently turning towards the Heart as a guide, not to the exclusion of a strong asana practice, but as the leading focus. We turn to the Heart because we know that your Heart is the one thing you always have with you, no matter how challenging circumstances become in your life. And because it is always with you, your Heart is a safe haven. Your Heart is your refuge, a place to rest and be nourished and restored. Your Heart will never point you in the wrong direction. And, your Heart is the gateway to deeper experiences of the Truth.
In Ashaya Yoga® the aim is to have a physical experience that opens the Heart. Time and time again I find that once students soften into the opening of their hearts students actually don't care one bit about achievement or body shape. They care that they leave class with their attention more in their Hearts than in their heads. After an Ashaya Yoga® class, students feel like they have come home.
Deep down, that homecoming feeling is what I really want from my yoga practice, don't you?
May your practice take you back to your Heart again and again and again.
Want to know what the experience of diving into the Heart with Ashaya Yoga feels like? Read this post.