Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, translator, and spiritual teacher. His last book was The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, and he is featured on our website as a Living Spiritual Teacher. In this paperback, he has teamed up with Karuna Erickson, a devoted yoga teacher and psychotherapist since 1970. Together, they have created a devotional masterwork that brings together yoga practice and mystical meditation. Or as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once recommended: "Fuse the powers of the sacred heart with the energies of the body, and you can transform everything." Heart Yoga opens us to divine energy and sends us into the world with an awakened love for all beings. To sense this, Harvey and Erickson suggest the following practice:
"One powerful way, then, that you can realize the presence of the heart is to visualize it as a sun pulsing and radiating in the core of your chest. Visualize that sun strongly, allowing its rays to penetrate every cell of your body and to create a field spreading out about six feet beyond and around your body. The sun within is now the sun-field of the radiant heart in which your practice will unfold."
Harvey and Erickson also talk about setting intention, practical hints for Heart Yoga, resistance, breath, and ending and dedicating your practice. They note: "The aim of Heart Yoga is not only to make the body healthier and more supple. This yoga also creates an open and spacious foundation to receive the direct transforming energies of the divine light consciousness. Eventually every cell can enter into lucid, joyful, and constantly regenerative communion with its origin."
The next six chapters offer a spiritual overview, mystic insights by poets and spiritual teachers from all wisdom traditions, and a yoga practice sequence:
1. the sacred marriage
4. love for all beings
6. service (the last five asana sequences are called "The Five Great Joys")
One of the things that makes these chapters so remarkable is the treasure-trove of poems, prayers, sacred texts, and meditations selected by Andrew Harvey. Here you will find devotional material by Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Hopi Elders, Teresa of Avila, Walt Whitman, Sri Aurobindo, the Buddha, Derek Walcott, Rainer Maria Rilke, and more. Erickson's explanations of the poses are down-to-earth and creative. The book concludes with a prayer and sections by the two authors on their journeys to Heart Yoga. Harvey ends with: "From joy all beings have come, by joy they all live, and unto joy they all return." (Upanishads).