Lead with your heart

The phrase “Lead with your heart” has been rolling around in my brain a lot for the past week.

It came up in week two of Love Yoga Teacher Training when we were exploring spinal movement. I told Tiffany Maloney, our awesome instructor, that I wasn’t sure I was moving the thoracic spine (the goal) rather than the lumbar spine (not what we were going for). “Lead with your heart,” she told me with her hand at the middle of my back. It was a simple physical instruction that resonated.

As an admitted lifelong nerd, I often move from the head instead of the heart. I think through what I already know and seek out more information. I read; I analyze (or overanalyze); I plan. I figure it out. But sometimes you need to just feel, and let your heart guide you.

I’ve felt my heart fill time and time again as I’ve watched Tiffany and other Love Yoga teachers lead from the heart recently. Our community suffered a tragic loss the day before my teacher training began when one of our teachers was killed in an accident. Grace Lee was a gifted teacher with beautiful spirit. Even in the short time I knew her and the few classes I took from her, she taught me to be more patient with myself and to have more fun in my yoga practice. Her signature line was telling you to move the corners of your mouth toward your ears, her “sneaky yoga teacher” reminder to smile. I loved that! It’s still hard to believe that someone so young (24) and so full of life is gone from this life. My heart goes out to her family, friends, fellow teachers.

Even as they struggled to process their own pain, Love Yoga teachers have done an amazing job of leading. The studio filled beyond what I thought capacity would have been for a beautiful practice in memory of Grace a week later. Her mat, covered with flowers and surrounded by lit candles, became the heart of the room as Tiffany’s gentle instructions and perfect playlist guided our movements. It was an unforgettable celebration of a well lived but too brief life.

After the practice, Tiffany invited everyone to write tributes or memories on the wall. I thought about picking up a pen, but my head still couldn’t find the words I wanted to say. Trusting enough to lead with my heart does not come easily for me. Maybe that’s why that instruction kept echoing when Tiffany said those words a day later in teacher training.

Instead of writing on the wall, I guess I’ll write my tribute to Grace here – Thank you, beautiful teacher, for sharing your joyful spirit with us. Your light lives on. Namaste.

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