Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of the Heart

The ingredients of Bhakti "In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? ...Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are four universal healing salves."
~ Angeles Arrien, author of The Four-Fold Way & Signs of Life, from the foreword of the book Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth

After seriously studying hatha yoga (the movement-oriented yoga system of postures) for over 12 years, I realized I had grown to love the territory of silence, but had stopped dancing, singing, and listening to stories. Interestingly, my life was feeling quite dispirited, despite my deep spiritual studies. Something small, yet huge, was missing; however I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Unbeknownst to me, it was bhakti yoga.

Bhakti yoga is the devotional yoga of the heart. We use our emotions and our longing for God as the channel for experiencing conscious union with The Divine. Bhakti yoga includes things such as poetry, mantra, music, singing, chanting, mythological stories, dance, prayer, and devotion as the vehicle for the experience of divine connection.


In February of 2011, I attended a life-changing, 8-day immersion in the art of Bhakti Yoga with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus band in New Orleans. We sang, we danced, we listened to stories, and my soul was renewed and inspired.

Since then, both my teaching and practice have been infused with various elements of heart-opening bhakti: singing with my guitar or shruti box in class, leading kirtans (call-and response chanting) and creating a conscious dance modality called Bhakti Moves.

Bhakti Moves

Inspired by a love of all things bhakti and the 5Rhythms work of Gabrielle Roth, I've created a dance-based practice that I'm calling Bhakti Moves. This work is a fusion of my deepest passions: Freedom Style Yoga, dance, meditation, rhythm, music, and my exuberance for the beauty and magic of life.

Bhakti Moves is an inspirational, heart opening, rhythm thumping, bhakti-full experience of diving straight into the infinite center of yourself. It's a deeply cathartic and healing way of practicing yoga, without the mat. We immerse ourselves in the joy of experiencing our divine essence by letting the bhakti move through us.

In this practice, we move through five basic sections of work: Waves, Patterns, Reconfiguration, Celebration, and Devotion.

We start with slow, grounded, primal waves of movement and get in touch with the breath and the ocean of creation, as we let ourselves slowly morph and move. Waves is all about being present with the eternal constant change as it swirls through us, and letting ourselves flow beautifully with it.

This undercurrent of primal energy finds expression in the world and in ourselves as specific and unique patterns. So, in the next section of work, Patterns, we let ourselves drop into percussive rhythmic patterns, using our feet, our hands, our voice, our whole being. When those patterns no longer serve us, we simply let another pattern surface and work with it until it needs to change.

The third section, Reconfiguration, lets us hone the skill of working with the deeply transformational energy of change and unpredictability. Instead of resisting this energy of the unknown and never-before-seen newness, we embrace it by dancing it. We let go of what we think we know, move with wild abandon, and let this amazing energy begin to free blockages and reconfigure ourselves, helping us find our new footing in the world.

From there, we enter into an energy of uplifted Celebration; of honoring who we are, honoring the group dynamic, and giving ourselves the freedom to move in a brand new way. Here we find our dance, our joy. Deep gratitude is a direct result, which takes us into a profound space of Devotion; full body prayer and communion with The Divine. Then we bring it all back to center and all back to the silence, where we began.

What People Are Saying

"I've been practicing yoga for over 15 years and have studied with many different teachers, including many well known master teachers. Over the past year my yoga practice has become more and more dance-like, and I've wanted to explore this process more consciously. This past summer I had the privilege (and joy!) of working with Carie in her Bhakti Moves. It was a wonderful and enlightening context in which to pursue the evolution of my yoga practice. I encourage anyone out there who is curious about the possibilities for transformation through movement to make an effort to connect and work with Carie in this profound practice."
~Jennifer W., Cape Elizabeth, Maine

"I experienced something I have never felt before, although I have always loved to dance. Carie lead us through a journey of freedom, tempo'd through music. I felt a gorgeous female energy I never knew existed in my limbs; joy and loveliness I never thought possible, as I am not a trained 'dancer.' It was a remarkable experience, one that I will never forget."
~Connie A. Ketchum, Idaho

"Bhakti Moves is fun and freeing, restful and exhilarating, all in one! I feel a connection with others in the class, while being supported to focus on myself. I love the opportunity to move freely in spirit with the music, along with Carie’s thoughtful guidance. At the end of the experience, I feel so calm, peaceful, and refreshed."
~Nell L., College Station, Texas