Palm Over Palm Over Heart

One of my favorite yoga teachers, Dr. Kerri Johnson, often uses the instruction to place palm over palm over heart. This cue takes place once at the beginning of class after a brief warmup and before we begin sun salutations. We pause, take a breath, and set an intention while placing palm over palm over heart. She also gives this cue another time or two during class transitions or as we settle into final relaxation. We take a slow, deep breath, reconnect to our body and remember our intention.

Connecting to Joy

Placing palm over palm over heart while breathing deeply and connecting to my body and intention became a comforting mini ritual that quietly made its way into my life off the mat. Placing my palm over my heart started as an unconscious action that eventually I became aware I was doing periodically. I also noticed that when I did this, it was while I was doing something that brought me joy.

I began to connect to the action, noticing when I did it and in response to what action or situation.

Most recently, I placed my palm over my heart when adding garlic and curry powder to onions browning in oil. The smell was divine. I was preparing nourishing food for me and my husband, and it was a cozy winter afternoon in my kitchen. It brought back a feeling of many other times I received joy from the sacred act of preparing nourishing food. I noticed the deep sense of satisfaction I got imparting love and the nourishment of good food to my family.

I noticed other times as well. I placed my hand over my heart when spending time with my grandsons, watching their wide-eyed real-time take on the world. When I sat outside on a beautiful afternoon watching the birds enjoy my bird feeder. When walking on the beach in the sun. When listening to live music that I loved.

But first, you have to find your joy

This small connection to myself reminds me to take the time to notice what gives me joy. I spent many years ignoring what gave me joy, with the vague notion that my joy was irrelevant, a luxury I could not afford. I spent those years raising children, building a career, sustaining a marriage and paying bills. At some point I stopped long enough to ask myself what brought me joy. I didn’t immediately know the answer. It took many months, years even, to reconnect to my inner compass and notice where my joy lived.

Reconnecting to your joy is like going on an archeological expedition, digging through years of rock-hard armor surrounding the tender underlying heart. I noticed that much of what brought me joy were things I had connected to as a child or teenager, and that those things were still there, buried deep inside. Bringing them back to the surface, exposing them to light and dusting them off is a most satisfying endeavor, and helps bring your life into alignment and balance.

Whatever brings you joy, connect to it. Make time for it, nurture it, embrace it. But first, you have to find it. Feel it in your heart, with your hand, and bring it into the light.

About Susan Nelson

Susan has been a committed yoga practitioner since 2007, and received her 200-hour yoga teacher training from Melissa Montilla of Sanctuary Yoga in 2012. She is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher and continues to increase her knowledge and skills through her teaching, her personal practice, and workshops and training opportunities. She has additional training in therapeutic yoga from Tra Kirkpatrick, Maggie Kampny and Melissa Montilla. Susan has three daughters and two grandsons. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and two dogs, where they enjoy the outdoors, time with friends and family, and live music.
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