Building lovingkindness – an inner attitude of wholeheartedly wishing all beings experience happiness – is trickiest when it comes to extending these feelings toward those with whom we’re in conflict. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to extend lovingkindness without condoning bad behaviors in others or accepting harm done to us.
In Yoga we can take our lessons from our physical practice and extend them off the mat. Let’s look at Revolved Half Moon Pose (Parvritta Ardha Chandrasana) and how it relates to lovingkindness practice.
Most heart-opening poses taught in connection with lovingkindness, involve big heart openings such as backbends. But in this version of Half Moon we must balance on opposite hand and foot. This creates restrictions in the body when attempting to radiate the heart center up and extend the other hand and foot outward. It’s much like trying to send out feelings of lovingkindness from a place of conflict. It’s harder to get where we want to go, but not impossible.
To move into the pose, we root down into the standing leg and lift the back foot to hip height, drawing both hips in toward the midline. The shoulder of the grounding arm draws in as the hand roots down. As we anchor hips and shoulder we fortify our core and our foundation from which we can twist and open up the heart center and extend the upper arm. Maintaining integrity in the foundation is key. If the hip of the extended leg begins to drop, reduce the twist. Don’t sacrifice the balance in the hips for the extension in the chest and upper arm. Greater ease and extension in the pose will come in time with consistent practice.
Note the importance of shoring up the torso where manipura (naval/courage) chakra and anahata (heart/compassion) chakra reside and the setting of boundaries (not allowing the hip drop) to keep the core steady. Developing a lovingkindness attitude toward those who are difficult for us, means opening up from a place of strength. It takes courage. It also takes practice.