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A Gita Retreat: The Power of Purpose and Practice Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 5

Day 4: Bhakti - Love & Devotion

70 mins - Practice
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The more we live our lives with a loving heart, with compassion, kindness, and forgiveness, the more free we may become. Bhakti Yoga is the path of intense devotion and surrender of the self so we can be in the presence of Love. Through this practice, we come to see our lives as instruments of Love, to cultivate unconditional love and find ultimate freedom. In Day 4, Jasmine leads a beautiful devotional class of Sun Salutes and creative sequences to strengthen and open the body for back bends, awakening our hearts with love and compassion. We close our practice meditating on the goodness, kindness, and beauty that exists within us, and consider how we may bring more Bhakti into our daily lives.

In this video, Jasmine references the Stephen Mitchell version of The Bhagavad Gita.

What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block

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Welcome back, everyone. I'm back here with my friends. So many different translations of the Bhagavad Gita throughout the past 25 years or so have kept me really grounded and rooted. I remember reading somewhere that Gandhi considered the Bhagavad Gita his mother. He really considered the Gita like his mom. But for me, really, the Gita has been like a bestie that's, you know, here to kind of tell me the truth, right? And to be super honest, not the type of bestie that just is just like, you know, feeds you all sorts of things to placate you, but really is there to say, look, you know, this is what I honestly feel. And so Krishna's words are kind of strong, you know, he's just like, rise up, Arjuna. He's not trying to, you know, just be fake or, you know, a fake air kiss bestie. So I hope you use it in that same way as a friend. And this is so it's so powerful to me too, just as far as a spiritual practice and who Krishna is. And, you know, there's so much some of the language at first and the Gita would throw me off about like, you know, surrender everything to me, surrender everything to me. And there is a lot of, of course, pronouns that were him and he and I was like, what does this even have to do with me? But when I read it further, and studied further, realizing that Krishna reveals who he is, and he says, I am the heart seated within each being, or I am the self that is seated in the heart of each being and continues to reveal who he is existing within everything in the universe. And so this devotion, this relationship to God isn't something up in the sky, if you're like me, and, you know, grew up with different religions that are punitive and punishing. And, you know, this one, and especially through the Bhagavad Gita saying God is all around you, in your friends, as your mother, as a child, existent within animals and the planet. And this is what we're developing this loving relationship, then we kind of, I was like, okay, now I get it, because it has been always this devotion to nature, and to my friendships and those deep loving relationships that I've found the living breathing experience of what we can call or what I can call God. And Krishna says that Krishna says it's not up, you know, somewhere up in the sky, but that's existent within our world. So the, you know, we can even say the Bhagavad Gita itself is Bhakti Yoga, although the heart is Karma Yoga, but it literally translates Bhagavad Gita, it's like a love song. It's a poem, it's a love poem from God. And so we can think of like, we're just, you know, kind of calling out in prayer. This is this, you know, what we can begin to receive back. And Krishna's gospel is simply love, you know, offer your life, do everything that you can as a loving gesture. He does say to me, make everything and offering to me. But some of the most beautiful and most profound verses are this love song, when he sings about who he is existing, not only in things that we find beautiful in nature, but in what is demonic in the world, so that we can begin to have a more big and vast vision of what we can consider sacred and have meaning, make meaning out of everything in our lives. So you can sit up nice and tall and maybe even place your hands on top of your heart. I'm taking a few breaths to allow the energy of your hands fill your heart. And take a few breaths while I read some of these verses to you as a love song. And then how can we treat our lives and our practices really as this receiving and taking as Bhakti is this relationship, a pure relationship that we have the way that we show up. First, with karma yoga, we're using our actions as service, as giving. And in Bhakti yoga, what I love is that generally we want to be the beloved, right? I want to be beloved. I want all these gifts. I want things. But the flip happens when we get to be the lover and in a constant state of love. So we see the beloved everywhere. And it's like, I get to love you. I get to be giving constantly. And I mean, that idea in the midst of so much suffering and chaos in the world of how can I love this world that needs me so desperately. I think we can all show up for and give of ourselves. And so a few breaths into your heart to receive Bhakti means to participate. So it's how we show up what we give and what we receive. So I'm going to start with still a few verses from chapter four. Oh, this transliteration, it's written like a poem. And this one I love for the verses on Bhakti yoga by Stephen Mitchell. And it's just written the way that it's meant to be as a song, as a poem that can nourish our hearts and souls rather than a text that can sometimes be really heady. And we receive in our heads and try to figure out what that means. So this is about our offerings. And he's talking about being in the state of constant offering and worship. So he says, when we let go of our attachment through our action, everything one does is worship. God is the offering, God is the offered, poured out by God, God is attained by those who see God in every action. Some pray through their yoga to the gods and make this their worship and adoration. Some offer worship by worship to itself in the fire of devotion. Others offer their senses in the fire of self-abnegation. Others offer their senses, objects into the fire of the senses. Others offer all actions of the senses and of the breath in the fire through the yoga of self-restraint. Others offer their wealth, their austerities, their practice of yoga. Others, aesthetics, offer their studies of the scripture and wisdom itself. Others offer their in-breath into their out-breath and their out-breath into their in-breath.

Others, while fasting, offer their in-breath into their in-breath. All these understand what worship is. By worship, they are cleansed of suffering. And so just even thinking our breath can be this act of worship when we offer our inhale to our exhale, our exhale into our inhale and constantly being in the state of worship, giving and receiving. But then in chapter 9, and Krishna continues to say that whatever you offer me, any offering, a leaf, a flower or fruit, a cup of water, I will accept it if given with a loving heart. Krishna is saying, I don't care what it is you give me. It doesn't have to be big at all. If it's water, if it's a flower, this is this act of giving, I will only receive it if it's given with a loving heart. So whatever we do, if it's done with love, will have this profound impact on us and what we will inevitably receive. Because if we do something loving, we feel that feeling in our hearts anyway. So in chapter 9, Krishna continues to sing basically his own praises because remembering it's this divinity or this power of love that exists within every heart. But I always love these kind of redemption phrases because we can say like, oh, you know, if you only knew where I had been, you know, mostly there's so many expressions of God that says you, you know, because you've done this or that you're a sinner. But Krishna is like, I don't, I don't care what you've done, even if you're a criminal, the heartless criminal, if he loves me with all of his heart, will certainly be liberated as he moves me, moves towards me on his path. Quickly that one becomes pure and his heart finds eternal peace. Arjuna, no one who truly loves me will ever be lost. We'll end this part of our inspiration for our practice because I feel like Asana specifically because we're taking on all of these shapes of cats and cows and sages and gods of destruction and, you know, the beauty of a mountain. It really is to see and experience the sacred that exists within everything so that we can feel the interconnectedness as we merge into oneness with the universe and not only in just one form. So in these next verses, Krishna just continues to sing this exquisite and ecstatic love song about himself. But in the poem, he says, I am, I am, I am. So I remember the more I read, I am this, I am that. You're singing about ourselves. And so it's such a powerful way to reconnect to our union with the universe and this worship that we can have for all that exists.

So again, you can close your eyes and tap back into your breathing, into your heart. He says, I am the self Arjuna, seated in the heart of all beings. I am the beginning and the lifespan of beings and their end as well. Of the sky gods, I am Vishnu, of the heavenly lights, I am the sun. Marici chief of the God winds, I am the stars and the moon. Indra among the gods, the mind among the six senses, the consciousness of all beings, of the storm gods, I am Shiva. Agni among the bright gods, Meru, the highest of mountains. Know that among the priests, I am Bripasti of generals, the war gods Skunda of waters, I'm the ocean of the great seers. I am Briku of words, the sacred syllable Om of worship. I am the mantra of mountain chains, the Himalaya of trees, the sacred fig tree, of divine sages, Narada, of the high celestial musicians, Chitaratra of saints, the wise Kapila of horses. Born from the sea foam of elephants, Indra's winged Aravata of men, I am the king of weapons, Indra's thunderbolt of cows, the wish granter. Kondarpa, the god of love, the king of reptiles, and it goes on and on and on and on.

But what I love most about this is that he has to continues to say, you know, that I'm the gods of the ocean, I'm the father and the mother and Yama, the god of death, finding this divinity that exists within everything. So maybe I'll read a little bit more of this verse later on during our meditation to inspire our writing. But to know that this presence is all around us and just the simplest and purest of energies, whether it's in water, we can be towards we don't have to go to the Ganges anywhere, but to just find it around us how sacred water is and air and earth, we can begin to tap into and experience this love wherever we are. So in Asana practice, you know, like I said, we'll move through lots of different shapes to find the sacred that exists within everything, and especially heart opening postures, because I think we can get so move into like our concern with ourselves and what's in what's inside. When we begin to open up our hearts, we begin to move towards concern for other and just look out for other and just look out and expand and extend ourselves. So just that postural change from to these beautiful back bending postures can allow a whole different transformative relationship with our world.

Practice

Let's start our practice by sitting on our heels. So there are so many different ways to get the spine moving, especially for our backbends. So we can generally do cats and cows, but I love to sit on the heels, it really allows the fluidity on of the spine to be able to take us into some of these deeper back bending practices we're going to explore. So you can start with your hands on your thighs. Of course, if your knees are uncomfortable, you can place some padding underneath it. But you'll go ahead and start by dragging the heart forward, shoulders back, let the head tip up so that it's all one movement together. And then as you exhale, begin to extend the arms forward, chin toward the chest, breathing into the back of the body. And again, moving with the rhythm of your breath. Inhale, remember offering the inhale to the exhale, and then exhale around. Again, like that inhale, draw the shoulders back, lift the gaze, and then exhale and round.

So we're going to do this a couple more times. But this time, you're going to interlace your hands behind your head, taking the flexion a little bit further behind the heart. So inhale and open up through the chest, elbows back, and then exhale, you can really draw the elbows in to open up the back of the neck. Again, like that inhale. And exhale. Breathing in like great butterfly wings there at the heart. And exhale from that cocoon. Breathing in one more time. And then exhale. Inhale and come up to neutral, and then come right up onto your hands and your knees. You can walk your knees underneath your heels. And from here, you're going to bend your elbows and let your heart kiss the space right between your thumbs. So right into ashtanga namaskar. I like to call this a heart stand. Gives it a nice little and kissing the earth there with your heart. Your tail bones are high, elbows in. This is the offering of the eight places of ashtanga namaskar. And then lie down flat onto your belly. You can release your forehead to the ground. Keep the shoulders lifted. And then you're going to keep your left hand right where it is, but stretch the right arm out to the side. Press into your left hand to roll onto your right hip. And then you can step the left foot behind you using a nice shoulder opener here. You can press into the left hand and massage the inside of the right shoulder. And just as much as it feels comfortable to you today, even if you'd like, you can open up your left arm, stretching it back. Come back towards center and you'll switch out your arms. So left arm straight out to the side, bend your right elbow, right hand, right in line with your ribs. Roll over onto the left hip, step the right foot behind you, and maybe extend the right arm, opening up through the chest and the heart. You'll come back through center, point your toes pressed down into the hand. This time it's cobra as you breathe in to lift and open through the chest.

And then come onto your hands and your knees. Tuck your toes under for downward facing dog, allowing your head to release. Even bending your knees, you can let the chest for today kind of hang low towards the earth or towards the tops of the thighs. And then see if you can keep the chest open as you lengthen the legs and the low spine. As you breathe in, extend the right leg up and high. You'll draw the right knee in towards the chest to step forward between your hands. Soften the back knee down and take your hands to the top of your right thigh. You can allow the pelvis to sink down. Roll the shoulders back so that the whole front of the body opens as we strengthen the back. Because with back bending, we want to strengthen the back muscles to support this vulnerable and open heart to go through the world with that openness. And then you can extend your left arm up, let it fall behind you so that you're feeling into the back of the heart. You can reach for your left elbow to allow the hands to slip a little bit further down the back as you allow your pelvis to release forward. You can stay here or with the right arm down, you can just take the back of the hand early but in the direction of these Gomukhasana or cow face. So you can reach for the left leg to release. Again, seeing nature reflected here in your practice, take another big breath in and then release your hands down to step back into downward dog.

Inhale your left leg high and step forward for your Anjana, allowing the right knee to sink down. I'd like to first come up and again make sure that you're lengthening the low back and keeping it supported so these vulnerable places in the body and back bending which is the neck. We want to keep supported and the lower back. So with the tailbone kind of dragging low, the front of the belly can support the back bend as you begin to sink a little deeper. You'll extend the right arm up, bend through the elbow to release your hand behind your heart using the left hand to draw the right elbow a little bit further. Breathing and then maybe releasing your left hand so that the back of the hand, maybe the fingertips can touch. If they're there you can let them meet and kind of pull and again leaning back so your head's like in a pillow and again the back of the neck can stay nice and long. Take a couple breaths here and then exhale to release your hands down and step back for downward facing dog.

As you inhale roll forward into a plank pose and then exhale into child's pose letting your head bow down to the earth. From here you're going to slither your heart right out into a baby cobra elbows close as you point your toes lift and open the chest and then press up onto your hands and knees for downward facing dog. You can look forward towards your hands bend your knees begin to take a nice slow walk so we just become so conscious of this presence and this holy ground where everything is sacred around us. Our urban environments as well as our natural ones that we can treat as sacred. Let your head drop, shake out through your hips a little bit and then pressing down into your feet slowly roll and rise up vertebrae by vertebrae even rolling the shoulders back to come up to stand with your arms by your sides. Even take your hands to your heart and prayer in this humble bow of your head. In this Surya Namaskar is this worship of the sun our bodies giving thanks and praise for this presence of light. We're going to take it into some back bending posture so you can hook your thumbs and reach forward up and back and even that same Garuda Mudra. Take a little back bend and then as you come through your heart this gesture of devotion as you press your palms forward drop your head interlace your hands behind your back. From here bend your knees peel the chest open lift the heart shift the weight into your left foot pick up the right leg and then slide the right foot back behind you into a high lunge. So a little bend through the back knee is nicer that you're really allowing the low back to stay protected. From here it's plank pose as you breathe in and then lower yourself down as you breathe out. It can be all the way to the ground or Chaturanga, cobra or upward facing dog and downward facing dog as you breathe out. As you inhale lift the right leg high to the sky you'll step forward as you breathe out. Sink down and inhale reach the arms up and then we're going to step forward in the same way interlacing the hands with a big breath shift the weight forward step the left foot forward to join the right and drop your head. A soft bend in the knees to inhale reach forward up arch back hands to your heart as you breathe out. Hook the thumbs reach forward up and arch back and offering from the heart as you come forward interlace the hands behind you bend your knees deeply lift and open the chest pick up the left foot and send it back behind you with your hands sliding down the inner left thigh pick up your heart and then reach the arms up to the sky. Plank pose as you breathe in your offering as you lower down halfway or all the way remember it doesn't matter how big it is a leaf water fruit if it's done with this loving heart left leg up in high breathing in stepping forward to breathe out high lunge to inhale interlace your hands behind you stepping forward with this wide open heart. A bend in the knees so that you can press down and rise up arching back and then the hands back to your heart. From here you can interlace the hands even coming into ukkatasana or some of these poses where we tend to contract. I'm going to see really the mantra is pretty simple how can my heart stay open in all of these situations so you'll bend your knees see if the low back can stay long and my heart and then from there reach the arms up remember I am a thunderbolt Indra's thunderbolt this love song love poem is your whole practice and then it's and then it's a bow forward over your legs from here your offering again stepping back plank or jumping into chakurunga cobra or upward facing and downward facing as you breathe out as you inhale extend the right leg high step forward we're going to drop to our knees to rise up for anjana asana and then that same gesture just so it transforms the act into worship you can reach your palms forward from here pick up the left knee seal the back heel down and you'll keep taking your arms behind you into devotional warrior here press down into the right foot warrior one is going to rise up from there from that deep state of devotion you can still hook the thumbs arch back a little bit and from this great warrior we're going to see bestie Krishna always playing the flute you can whistle if you want remember it's a love song you'll touch the earth with the right hand or even grab a block if you have one nearby to lift the ground up a little higher and from there open up into arthajandrasana we've already did quite a bit of quadricep openings so if you're ready for chapasana you'll reach for the top of your left foot and then press your foot back into the hand to open up through the chest when you're ready to let it go extend the leg bend through the knee drop the back foot we're going to rise up to get all the way back to peaceful warrior you're welcome to find those gomukhasana hands opening up through the shoulders and the chest as you come down you're welcome to flip it with the right foot behind you so all these big back bends to the sky come back through center you are offering halfway all the way or as I like to say no way downward dogs are meeting place left leg you'll reach it up high plint your foot between your hands but then seal the back knee to the earth to reach forward up and back remember we're coming into devotional with the offering of your hands tuck the back toes lift the knee seal the right heel down drop your heads to interlace your hands behind you warrior one rising up pelvis forward really sink down as you arch back a little in this variation and then you can kind of circle the arms around you to find krishna you can reach for your block open up into your arda chandrasana chapasana remember to see the beauty in the moon the sacred that's there peaceful warriors you let yourself release making each gesture a beautiful act of devotion tumble your hands to the ground come on to the outer edge of the right foot can step the left foot behind you pressing down to arch back and then back around lowering rising and we'll meet in downward dog with a big breath out you can bend your knees look forward step step hop run it's like this running to meet the beloved when we come to our mat which is within ourselves lift the chest and bow forward a bend of the knees to rise up through utkatasana to get nice and rooted and then release your arms by your side so you're gonna shift the weight into the right foot and then begin to pick up the left foot and set it up for dancer pose remember krishna being within everything destruction creation and this whole dance that's being played out but you'll draw the thumb and index finger you can start at the center of your heart find the length in the top of the quadricep that we've been playing with all of this opening and once you have some stability you can begin to extend the right arm forward the left leg back maybe even towards this parallel i like to take it into kind of a bow pose situation when you're ready to let it go it's a warrior three arms by your side or forward and then warrior one from there you can take a big inhale lift and open through the chest and then come onto the ball of the left toe sink down into that high lunge position and we'll take it into one more twist the invitation is any variations of the arms we've been playing with to open up the shoulders and the chest and then from here you'll come forward towards a revolved arta chandrasana so your left hand to a block you can take it maybe into the higher variation i am remember even in some of the most challenging shapes to find the breath and then again the invitation is to reach for the back foot krishna's and everything this side it means to attract so anything that attracts us music we're drawn and then arms by your side so when you're ready you can shake it out when you find your balance it takes a moment you can shake it out when you find your balance it takes a moment to find our balance as the world's always spinning shift your weight into the left foot create this ring of marriage yoke to the self and then extend forward and back maybe reaching for the back foot it's a nice transition to warrior three but you might kind of boomerang or go flying arms forward or by your side and then warrior one interlace your hands behind you come on to the ball of the right foot back into that high lunge and then you can extend the right arm up sinking down it's kind of a revolution here to invite the right side of the body forward arms if you're moved and then we'll make our way towards our revolved arda chandrasana drawing the right hip down and then extending the left arm up you can reach for the back foot press your right foot into the left hand to roll open through the chest and then krishna of course within every experience right from here hands down to step back lowering down or anytime into child's pose breathing in for cobra if you're moving through the vinyasa and into downward facing dog so we're going to continue with these shapes of pretty deeper and deeper backbends inhale the right leg high step forward and we'll take it back into angina asana as you reach your arms forward and up we're going to play with that same shape but a little bit deeper maybe you'll have your hands will be your shoulders will be warm enough to reach your hands or your t-shirt and then as you come forward you can again you can use the block i'm not going to use mine in this one then you'll begin to reach the right arm up bend through the left knee and see if you can reach back for the top of the left foot now you may have to send your hips back to find the foot but then there is that adjustment in the pelvis so that low back can stay supported by lifting the pubis dropping the tailbone sinking down into the top of the left thigh there's probably going to be lots of feelings there sending the breath everywhere and then for those of you that want to take it a little deeper your forearm can find the ground you still want to see how your chest can stay open the right shoulder the left shoulder and then begin to release the left leg and from here begin to lengthen the right leg you may want to look up for a moment keep these left toes pointed and then you're gonna sit back towards the half of your asana if this is uncomfortable for the knee we're not going to be here long at all there's a little transition that's going to happen where you're going to come onto your right forearm behind you and then again find the outer edge of this right hip like we were doing towards the beginning and then the feeling is to press in to the top of the left foot and from there into the right hand and see if you can rise up towards this rock star shape and then maybe find the same back bend so our hearts are blown open in all of these shapes you have to really press the pelvis forward left leg back and then you're gonna flip it around to the back of your mat so just like love you know we kind of fall into it you can feel really awkward you don't know what's going on but you're going to be in a three-legged dog towards the back of your mat we're going to work towards a pose called gondavaradasana or grasshopper so the first variation of it you're going to take the right knee down keep the left leg lifted like knees chest and chin and then drop your heart between your thumbs you're on your chin you're on your heart and then lower down onto your bellies point your toes lift the chest for cobra cobra and then downward dog we'll take it on the other side if that was little new and creative on this side you'll let's start with the left leg high and step forward if your knees get sensitive at any point make sure you have some padding nearby to place underneath them take the right arm up maybe the left hand behind you pillowing your arm behind your head to the back of the neck stays long in your backbends and then extending the right hand down and bending through the right knee to reach back with your left hand towards your right foot I like to find little pulses it's just a little movements that can help to open up more blocked areas of the body like the quadriceps so as deeper muscles maybe the right forearm and breathing through it and then when you're ready to let your right leg go let it go and we'll check out that wild transition on this side so you'll straighten out through the left leg roll over onto your left hip right hand behind you so you can kind of do like a lounging shiva on this side or sometimes it's a lounging buddha instead of taking it up remember it doesn't matter how big it is with the quality but if you're coming up press into the top of the right foot to lift up and then maybe reach for your right foot flipping it over towards the front of the mat again and let's check out this little kind of baby grasshopper left knee down right leg is going to come up and hearts kiss the earth flat onto your belly point the toes lift and open the chest and this time come onto your hands and your knees and send your hips towards your heels doesn't have to be the biggest child's pose just letting the low back release and then come on up to sit onto your shins so we're going to explore coming into full gandavaradasana or grasshopper it's pretty intense especially the back of the neck that's why we were working so much and keeping it nice and stable so a blanket can be used to really allow the heart to sink down and support and protect the back of the neck but of course the baby one variation is there for you if you have your blanket like so you can fold it even one more time and place it out and in front of you so that the ground is lifted you're not putting that much pressure on the back of the neck and then hands on either side of the blanket your chin is going to go onto the sticky mat and then you're giving your heart a nice release into the ground getting it nice and open this is even nice right here and then if you're going to take it further lift the hips I like to take my elbows it's hard to talk underneath my ribs and then maybe play with the lift or two so play with it don't hop too hard because of the back of the neck but it does release so much wonderful energy there in the chest and then right away roll over onto your back a half wheel will feel nice to release the back of the neck so by pressing down into your feet allow the heart to swell you know just like a big wave in the ocean the whole ocean expresses itself in the tiny little wave that's like each one of us draw the knees towards each other so again you can keep the low back nice and stabilized and then you can interlace your hands underneath you waddle the shoulders a little bit the back of the throat will be constricted you'll hear the breath a little bit deeper pressing down to lift up you can even release your hips onto your interlaced arms and allow the heart to breathe our lungs and our heart are the forests of the body great sanctuary you can give more life too by doing even the smallest acts with great love great care being in a constant state of love sometimes through heartbreaking compassion when you're ready you can lift up again now we did a lot of back bending so your low back might be super sensitive but if you'd like to come up for a full or vedani rasana if you're feeling the openness hands on either side of your ears rise up to the crown of your head and then press down to rise up you can move a little forwards and backwards finding equanimity between the feet and the hands and then when you're ready chins in towards your chest to lower down so take a couple moments you can take one hand on your belly one on your heart aligning our actions with our hearts our navel is the center of our actions and karmas and our heart the center of devotion that they don't have to be separate and then from here windshield wiper your knees a little bit from side to side loosening through the hips and the low back it's probably feeling alive right now and then without drawing your knees too close into your chest very quickly i like to just take my legs up so especially if you have a block or anything a blanket near you it's nice to place it underneath your low back and then taking a very simple shoulder stand type of expression in an inversion to release the back get the legs up in the sky and our hearts over our head and take a few breaths there and whenever you're ready to come down bend your knees plant your feet into the ground float the hips up up and move the blocks over to the side and then roll over onto your left hip to take a simple supine twist you can allow the right arm to release out to the side and again it's just allowing the breath and gravity to do the work here as you surrender the body remembering it's a participatory relationship receiving now that divine love song i'm everywhere i'm in every moment when we're here when we're present to receive this presence i want to take it right over to the other side scoot over onto your right hip knees to the right you can look past your left hand breathing into the heart and lungs and breathing out cleansing from the belly out through the low back into the legs here you can roll right over onto your right side for a fetal position while you come on up to sit and we'll prepare for shavasana with all of that back bending i highly recommend placing something underneath your knees and even coming forward just very gently in your paschimottanasana so it's not too extreme as you allow both halves to meet you can reach for your feet bowing into all of these qualities within your own heart where all your kindness compassion love that we awaken to offer and then begin to roll yourselves back for your shavasana again as an offering to the love that lives within you is who you are every part of your body can be like incense or candle the ritual altar and when done with love take a few deep breaths nurturing yourself actively feeling the sensations in your body as an instrument of love so and begin to deepen the rhythm of the breath again this metaphor of krishna with his flute drawing us whatever it is that we love like roomie says that the beauty we love be what we do there are thousands of ways to kneel and kiss the ground and roll over onto your side rise on up to sit placing your hands gently on top of your heart as we prepare to even meditate on the goodness kindness beauty on the love that exists within us okay deep breath in and release your arms so take a couple moments and i'll meet you back with your journals and anything you need for our meditation so let's take a few moments and sit and really meditate on some of these qualities

Meditation

that we've awakened through exploring bhakti yoga through the practice of opening up our hearts and the beauty that really is this path of love of bhakti yoga and we can think in so many traditions it's at the heart it's at the heart of the practices of love thy neighbor i personally come from the sufi tradition it was raised in iran and it's so beautiful because again the you know god is called the friend all right so buddy and bestie that we can sense is always here with us and i love that idea of friendship sacred friendship that we can develop with the world around us and with ourselves so i'm going to actually start the meditation with a roomy quote a little bit of a roomy poem um that's going to guide us into the meditation of our hearts so you can sit up nice and tall even rub your palms together the hands are meant to be the instruments of the heart as they extend straight out the heart in space in which we can give and receive awakening that energy and then turn the palms open and draw the shoulders back this is called pushpaputam mudra it's just kind of fun to say pushpam is a flower and this is a mudra of offering mudras are their sacred hand gestures that again express an intention behind our meditation so this is of offering and an offering tray of what we're giving what we're serving up so you can sit up nice and tall and let the back of the body be nice and stable and your face soft and your belly soft awakening this unconditional love you can even look in your hands nice and wide and open this gesture of giving of yourself you've been giving yourself this meditation is for you sometimes we think by being loving and kind we're giving all of these things over to others which of course we want to do but it's really the effect that it has on us as love is transformative and liberative path to free us when you plant a tree every leaf that grows will tell you what you sow will bear fruit so if you have any sense my friend don't plant anything but love so if you have any sense my friend don't plant anything but love so with your hands open here you can envision the seeds we've been talking about our thoughts and our actions and what fruit they bear and so the more that we can live our lives with this loving heart to awaken compassion and kindness even forgiveness is one of the qualities of the heart the more free we get so you can continue this gaze at your hands one of the sutras even the yoga sutras patanjali's yoga sutras says that the mind can become free or we can reach samadhi union with our spiritual essence through meditating on the light that arises from the heart on the light that arises from the heart i think that's sutra 143 meditating on the light that arises from the heart so take a few deep breaths here seeing how your actions affect the world around you affect the people around you and again arjuna is kind of pleading to krishna and saying you tell me all of these things about offering myself to you what are the ways i can find you what are the ways i can find you and as we started this practice he goes on and on and on all the ways that we can recognize this divine and so as we continue to read and nurture ourselves with i am i am i am i am he even says i am the dice game of swindlers we're even gamblers we're even gamblers the splendor of the high and mighty determination and victory and the courage i am krishna of the pandava so that's just one of his incarnations i am arjuna i am you i am vyasa of the poets of punishers i am the skeptor the silence of the secret things but these are just a small number of my infinite manifestations where i tell you were i to tell you more there would be no end to telling but whatever in this world glows with intelligence beauty be sure it has its source in a fragment of my divine splendor just know that i am um and that i support the whole universe with a fragment of myself i'm gonna take a few more breaths with your hands open in seeing our lives as instruments of love that we come to our practice to cultivate unconditional love and we can even call it unconditional friendship friendliness so take another couple of breaths here saying how this gesture even our practice transforms us awakening these qualities as krishna says that's who i love the best those who are compassionate and kind who support and serve and then you can release your hands onto your knees again with the palms open it's a receptive gesture so with all you gave now receiving receiving those beautiful words into your heart all of those affirmations so and even as you sit here one of the ways to cultivate bhakti in our lives is to create an altar you can gently open your eyes and place in front of you something that you love it could be a photo of a loved one even the great tibetan buddhist master chogen trump said everybody loves something even if it's tortillas so it doesn't matter what it is what the object of our devotion is we start that can fill our lives with feeling as bhakti is the path of intense devotion surrender of ourselves so we can be in the presence of love up to the next couple moments you can reach for your journal you can start to write down you know how can i invite more bhakti into my life how can i invite more devotion into my life for me it starts with my relationships you know even how can i do the dishes for my partner when i didn't make one it's just doing something that's kind that's loving that's an act of giving instead of again just wanting wanting but how can you create more bhakti in your life for some people it's with their pets they're reminded they connect deeper into their hearts so you can begin to write and even start to write down the names of the people that you love that are around you what are some ways that you can express your devotion to them um the point is to show up and to actually do something so what can we give how can we express our devotion and finally you know you can bring to mind and this can be a little bit difficult you know things people places experiences that have even caused you harm things people that you don't like this isn't to love them but how can we hold space for everything perhaps uh invitation towards forgiveness or even equanimity i know for me you know one person comes to mind or a couple people and i can contract how to stay open and let go of resentment hatred anger this is all the letting go the transformative and purifying energy of bhakti that's generated through our relationships with people and then you can begin to finish up if you're continuing and enjoying writing continue and and if not i'll see you for our next practice thank you so much for joining me today

Comments

Melisss
1 person likes this.
Really interesting to learn about the Bhagavad Gita! Thanks for sharing the knowleadge!
Kate M
1 person likes this.
As we are being submerged in the 5th wave of the pandemic, it is sooooo wonderful to do a parallel dive into the healing depths of the Gītā. Jasmine, you are leading us in such a beautiful  exploration of these deep waters. This retreat is a real blessing... many thanks.
Jasmine
Melisss I'm so happy you are enjoying the practice and teachings of the Gita!
Jasmine
Kate M Thank you so much for your supportive comments on the show! They are some of my favorite teachings and help so much through times of crisis and change.
Brenda S
I like the descriptions of the Gita that you share and the meditations. For me the practice is difficult to follow, but I like how they follow a theme. Namaste 
Liza S
Thank you so much for an amazing talk and practice Jasmine ! 

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