If you're feeling down about your love situation this Valentine's Day, a lesser-known yoga tradition can help.
What we humans do for love! Like hungry tigers, we go out on the hunt and eat it up in any form. Be it a romantic gesture, motherly love, or even approval from our teachers, we'll take what we can get. But even if we do get the love we want from other people, we are often left feeling empty, like it isn't enough. The problem is that we're looking for love in all the wrong places.
American's have dedicated one whole day to honor love, but in the yoga tradition, love is an entire practice. I challenge you to set aside your chocolates and your candy hearts this Valentine's Day and instead try practicing bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga teaches us that unionÂa sought-after state of yogaÂcan exist spontaneously with a heart connection. It is through the heart that we feel connected to others on the planet, to the divine, to ourselves. Simply put, bhakti yoga happens when we stop our mental chatter and know that we are love.
The practice of bhakti often takes the form of "guru devotion," a concept that can scare people. "Guru" is sanskrit for "teacher;" it literally translates to "dispeller of darkness," or "one who brings light." The idea of loving a teacher who doesn't speak your language and, in some cases, that you never physically meet, can freak some people out. Why would you, a rational, smart person, offer your love to someone who doesn't even know your name? But the concept of guru devotion, or love of the teacher, is that the guru loves the devotee, the "bhakta," unconditionally.
When unconditional love is offered to me, I'm able to feel that unconditional love for myself. And when I risk loving myself, I inspire others around me to do the same. When they love themselves, they spread that love to those around them. It is in that way that we small beings can begin to create peace on the planet. Let's just call it "the yoga of Valentine's Day."
Want to learn more? Pick up Prem Prakash's The Yoga of Spiritual Devotion to get started.