Sunday, January 19, 2014

8:28 PM
Each month of my Fitness Project is supposed to have a singular hallmark event. For my Yoga Month, the event was to be an all-day Baron Baptiste power yoga workshop. After a month of anxiously anticipating the workshop, I was dismayed to get the following email last Thursday (the day before the scheduled workshop):

It is with such a heavy heart that I write this note. Yesterday, after a planning session with my team for our Yoga Journal LIVE! event I went out for a quick ski session on the mountain near my home in Park City and I took a bad fall. The result is that I have severely sprained and strained my knee. I am still not sure of what damage I have done. The reason I am sharing all of this is that because of my skiing accident I am unable to walk and will not be able to attend Yoga Journal LIVE! San Francisco this weekend. Thank you for your understanding, I love you all and know I will see you soon!
Much Love,
Baron Baptiste

How mundane really. I mean we put these people up on pedestals and think they are superhuman. Turns out they are just as capable as us of doing stupid things like falling down. And, like the rest of us, they also seem capable of doing things like this at the most inconvenient times.

So the question was - what should I do now? I browsed the other workshop offerings and was at first drawn to the other workshops that, like the power yoga one, would likely be physically demanding.

Yogini and Heartfire Tender - Shiva Rae
But then I saw this offering by the famous instructor, Shiva Rae:

Tending Our Heartfire: Embodying the Wisdom, Power, Science, and Yoga of our Energetic Heart for Individual and Collective Healing

We have an extraordinary field of energy that emanates from our heart fire, or the ancient understanding that is confirmed in the new research of our energetic heart. In this experiential intensive, you'll leave with a transformed embodiment of your energetic heart as well as tools to "tend the fire" of your heart on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level to live in your highest potential for the New Year. The class includes interactive education, two energetic vinyasa practices, and many accessible forms of meditation.

Her workshop sounded really new agey and weird and not at all in my zone, as it were. But I took my power yoga workshop being cancelled as a sign that I should really take this opportunity to try something different. So I took the leap of faith to spend six hours learning to, and meditating on, and practicing cultivating my "Heartfire".

Holy smokes (no pun intended) - it was hard.

The workshop was all about looking inward and eliminating the dissonance between your heart and mind. It was about giving and loving and energy channels and electromagnetic energy and touching and loving on strangers.

I was freaking out.

Turns out it is really safe to stay all curled up inside yourself and keep your heart protected. It is easy to build up shields and walls around you that keep everyone at a very safe distance so you never have to feel too much (either hurt or love). It is overwhelming to share in too much of the love and hurt and angst around us in the world, so we rationalize it away and manage to ignore most of it through the extreme busyness of our living.

That was the bigger part of what challenged me (i.e., recognizing how potentially dim and sheltered my "heartfire" had grown in response to the callousness of life). There were a host of other small things in the intimacy of the workshop that also made me extremely uncomfortable.

It was difficult to intellectualize the discussion of quantum physics that supposedly explained the cosmic origin and sustainability of our individual heartfires (think the movie Down the Rabbit Hole).

It was with extreme patience that I conducted slow moving meditations designed to cultivate a "heartfire electromagnetic field" around me that interconnected with the electromagnetic fields being generated by others in the room.

It was somewhat disconcerting for me to get off my own mat and crowd into the space of others; having to touch and hug and otherwise physically connect with strangers.

It was weird to have a stranger tell me that when she was cradling my head in her hands she felt a huge outpouring of unconditional love for me (all I had felt was that her hands were cold despite the heat of the room).

At the lunch break I walked out of the warm, dark room thinking Oh. My. God. I am not doing that again.

So then I attended a super-uplifting and pulsing one hour flow class that was exactly my zone.

When it was time for the afternoon session to start I considered switching into another workshop. But once again I stopped just short of making the change because the reality of it is - I could use more love in my life. And to get more love I have to learn to be comfortable with what love feels like - scary and vulnerable and amazing and touching other people.

So I went back into the room, and I hugged Shiva and I committed to the practice. And it was good.

In case you were wondering - No, I wasn't leading hug circles in the afternoon session, but I did experience the deepest meditation that I have done in years and came out of the workshop with a renewed commitment to being more open and to leading more with my heart and less with my super rational and analytical and calculating brain.

I never would have felt this way had I not made the hard choice to push waaaaay out of my comfort zone last Friday. But in a way a very physical practice probably would not have done, the lasting impact, the full-on stretching of my mind and heart has had a resonance that has extended far from the mat.

As Shiva said at some point during the day - It is never too soon to start loving your life exactly how it is right now.

To that I would add...or yourself.

To learn more about my Fitness Project, please contact me at,, or connect with me on Facebook.


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