Hridaya Yoga (Sanskrit Hṛdaya = heart, Yoga = union), or Yoga of the Sweetness of the Heart, is a modern yoga system inspired from the systems Jnana and Bhakti, in which the concept of spiritual heart plays a central role. The spiritual heart is identified with Atman, the ultimate self, as it is known in the Vedic tradition.
The fundamental principles were formulated initially in 2001, after a series of silent solitary meditation retreats, by the yoga teacher Sahajananda (born Claudiu Trandafir). Other contributors are yoga teachers Simona Trandafir and Liviu Gheorghe.
Hridaya Yoga is a syncretistic school relying mainly on Advaita Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, and the Upanishads, but also on the larger sphere of contemplative traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sufism, integrating them around the idea of nonduality.
At the basis of this school there are seven principles:
1. belief in a supreme reality
2. the nature of this supreme reality is consciousness
3. there is an ultimate essence of one's being, called by the names such as Atman, Spiritual Heart or Supreme Self
4. self inquiry can generate the necessary conditions for the revelation of the Spiritual Heart
5. direct experience in meditation shows that there is a relation of identity between the supreme reality and the spiritual heart
6. the spiritual heart is also understood as spanda - sacred tremmor
7. holistic interconnectivity of everything
There are 3 essential elements that make up the practice of Hridaya Meditation. These elements are merely seen as pointers, directing the mind inwards in search of its point of origin.
The awareness of the Heart Center
The Heart Center is located in the middle of the chest one finger width to the right of the centerline of the body, as prescribed by Ramana Maharshi (The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words, Arthur Osborne, pp. 24-25)
The awareness of the pauses after inhalation and exhalation
This method is offered in many traditions as a way of glimpsing the background of Stillness behind the stream of mental activity which itself slows during these pauses.
Asking the question Who am I?
This is a revolutionary spiritual practice, according to Ramana Maharshi the most efficient method of revealing our true nature, the Spiritual Heart. “What is essential in any sadhana is to try to bring back the running mind and fix it on one thing only. Why then should it not be brought back and fixed in Self-attention? That alone is Self-enquiry (atma-vichara). That is all that is to be done!". Ramana Maharshi, Sri Sadhu Om – The Path of Sri Ramana, Vol.1
Remaining with the awareness oriented to the pure "I am" feeling (aham vritti), tracing it back to its source - Atman (through Self-enquiry) generates purification of the subconscious mind, eventually dissolving all attachments, identifications, and subconscious patterns leading to the revelation of the Spiritual Heart, or Self-realization. As a result, there is an increased capacity to witness from the stillness any internal and external phenomenon and the attitude to live constantly with an Open Heart.
Hridaya Hatha Yoga is a contemplative form of traditional Hatha yoga. In Hridaya Hatha Yoga practice, asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, etc. are integrated from the Advaita (non-dual) perspective. In the practice of the asanas, it is outlined the importance of both: 1) consciousness and 2) energy
Postures are held for long periods of time (upwards of 10 minutes in advanced stages of practice) while the practitioner maintains certain inner attitudes as prescribed in tantric texts such a Vijnana Bhairava Tantra.
Maintaining the Witness Consciousness represent the underlying background for the entire session of asanas. Thus, starting and finishing an asana is no longer marked by moments of interrupted awareness.
Students begin to learn to increase sensitivity of the physical body, which leads naturally to an increased awareness of and sensitivity to the energies that flow through the body on more subtle levels.
As the awareness becomes more refined through practice students then learn how to perceive the subtle effects of the activation of different chakras and the effects these activations have up on the being at the physical, energetic, mental, and emotional levels.
Further on, as the awareness continues to expand beyond the confines of the limited perspective of the ego, a perception arises that the energies being experienced do not originate from or belong to “me” or “my body”, that they are universal.
In order to give up the ego centered perspective, an inner attitude of openness, surrender, is necessary.
Asking the question “Who am I?” as a method of inquiry into the origin or nature of the awareness that perceives the experience the student is able to dis-identify from whatever is the content of the experience.
In this phase, the practice of the asana becomes a meditation in itself, in which a consciousness is witnessing a universal enegy, going beyond the ego.