Andrew Harvey and Karuna Erickson are the authors of Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism. In Heart Yoga, Andrew and Karuna use practical teachings and richly layered poems to remind us that through yoga it is possible for anyone to become “embodied channels of illumined love, grace, peace . . . and instruments of divine creativity and service in the world.”
I recently had a chance to interview them about their book, the benefits and differences of heart yoga and how yoga can connect you to the Sacred. You can read highlights from our conversation below. For more information, please visit Andrew’s web site at www.AndrewHarvey.net and Karuna’s web site at www.yogakaruna.com. Heart Yoga is available on Amazon.com by Clicking Here
Andrew, you are an internationally acclaimed visionary and bestselling author and/or editor of over 30 books. What inspired you to write about yoga?
Well my last book , which in a way is a consummation of my life work is called “The Hope; A Guide to Sacred Activism.” In that book I lay out a vision for what I believe is a force that can save the planet, save the human race and save us from the addictions that are now destroying us. That force I call Sacred Activism, which is the fusion of the two noblest fires in the human soul: The fire of the mystic’s passion for God and the fire for the activist’s passion for justice.
When these two fires fuse, they birth a third fire which is the nuclear fire of love in action and which connects directly to the evolutionary fire that streams from the Godhead to evolve all of the Universes ever more profoundly into the glory of the Divine.
When I wrote this book, I came to understand that four kinds of practices were profoundly needed now for us to become strong enough to deal with the enormous crisis that is manifesting everywhere:
- Cool practices that calm us and align us with Divine Being.
- Hot practices that align us with the Motherhood of God.
- Prayer practices that enable us to keep up a stream of remembrance of the beloved through everything and align us with the will of God through everything.
- And very importantly, body practices, Sacred body practices that enable us to embody the Divine energies that are streaming in at this crucial and menacing moment to help birth what I believe is the real secret meaning of our crisis and embody Divine humanity.
About eight years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet Karuna Erickson and she was a pupil of mine in a class that I was giving on Rumi. And very sweetly and tenderly, she came up to me after one of my classes and said,
“Andrew, the passion that is devouring you and that you are emanating will deeply damage you if you don’t get more bodied.”
And because she said it so sweetly, I heard her and I embarked on a whole deep immersion in yoga under her instruction and through that immersion, I came to understand with Karuna’s help that at this moment yoga could be the most important crucible for the divinization of the body that we have available to us.
Yoga has very ancient sacred roots. Yoga has always known at these Sacred roots that the Divine is present as Light Consciousness in every cell of the body…
Yoga can become a conscious way of uniting with the Divine within and without and even more importantly of calling down the Divine Light into the body so that the body can become more and more consciously the living temple of the Divine energies.
One of the most extraordinary things about heart yoga has been is its extremely vibrant reception from both the leading spiritual teachers Marianne Williamson, Caroline Myss and Deepak Chopra and also by the leading Yoga teachers such as Seane Corn, Rodney Yee and Shiva Rea.
How does Heart Yoga differ from other types of yoga, and what is its biggest benefit?
God is the sacred marriage of immanence and transcendence. This is the way in which God is most holy and most vibrantly worshiped in all the great mystical traditions. And the site of the marriage is the sacred heart center. This isn’t the physical center of the heart. It’s a little bit to the right of the chest and it’s called by many names…
And, when this heart center is open, it allows for the irrigation of the body by the Divine Light….And so the heart center functions in the spiritual body, psychosomatic body, mystical body in the same way that the physical heart center operates in the physical body. For example, just how the physical body pumps blood around the body to keep the body vibrant. So, does the heart center, when open, pumps the Divine Light around all of the different parts of the physical and spiritual body and allows them to come into a vibrant field of naked unity, which allows us to become more and more consciously Divine.
So, we called it Heart Yoga in this very profound mystical sense and we’ve put at the core of our book a vision of the heart center how to open it and how to stay in it while practicing the asanas and I think Karuna you’d like to say something about why you feel so important about heart yoga…
I think that Andrew is a living example of heart yoga because you can hear in his words how the inspiration flows, in a very grounded way flows through the body. The light is manifesting in every cell of our bodies actually when we practice with conscious intention, as we do with heart yoga. Our intention is to bring practice into a deeper and deeper level of actually invoking the light and feeling it radiating through every cell in the body. This creates the type of inspiration in which Andrew has been speaking of….
I’d like to emphasize that this experience is available to everyone. It’s not just some rare, strange experience that’s only available to a few enlightened beings. But, everyone has an experience of connecting with what is Sacred. For example, when they look at a baby or look at beautiful flower. This direct experience of connecting with the Sacred is something that through conscious practice that we can all, and we all have experienced. You don’t have to be an accomplished Yogi. You can just open your heart to the possibility of this experience. And, here it is for everyone.
In our book, we really do make that very clear. One of our great dreams for this book is that it would be a book for absolutely everyone, not only for yoga practitioners, but also for those who haven’t yet found yoga. And the ways that we offer for opening the heart through the ancient, mystical systems are very simple.