There has been some heavy energy floating around the cosmos this month! I mean, the fact that we had a super blue blood moon eclipse is just bananas. Everything has felt pressured, busy and intense. Not all bad, but A LOT to manage. It probably didn’t help that last weekend was full of shenanigans with Snoop Dogg. #sorrynotsorry I try at least one day out of the week to hibernate and recharge, and that just didn’t happen for me this past weekend. When I miss out on this restoration, it always leads to me feeling run down and overwhelmed. I think that is also why it’s taken me an extra week to let YTT settle in and marinate.
One of the things we’ve been learning about lately is the Koshas, or coverings of the Self. The idea is that at our core we have Self (what most relate to as the soul; in yoga – Atman), and then coverings that are the physical, energetic, mental/emotional, wisdom/intuitive and bliss bodies. The goal in life is to uncover the Self and connect with the Universal Consciousness (in yoga – Brahman, in other terms – divine, God, etc). Of course these are broken down much more, but this is the basic outline of our “problem” as humans. The problem is we forget who we are under these coverings, which creates our suffering (i.e. depression, anxiety, unhappiness). We then use the Sutras (explained here) to learn how to live a yogic life (the joining of our Self and the divine).
Still with me? Hang in there, I swear this relates back to Snoop.
The past few weeks of class have been a combination of my favorite and least favorite topics – the energy body/chakras and anatomy. Anatomy is like a totally different language for me. I sit with all my manuals and notebooks watching my instructor’s mouths move, but nothing computes in my brain. Soooo not my strength. BUT if we want to increase the health of our physical body (annamayakosha) and find peace, we have to practice yoga postures (asana), rest, proper nutrition, relaxation, etc. Obvious, right?
I was super pumped to explore the subtle body though, which includes our energetic body (pranamayakosha) and intuitive body (vijnanamayakosha) and how they relate to yoga philosophy. This section also includes our mental/emotional body, buuuuuut that’s my day job, so I get enough of that already. 😉 I have been a long-time student of the chakras, absorbing anything I can get my hands on. I have explored numerous energy healing modalities, and as an adult I am coming to fully understand what it means to be an intuitive empath. But my relationship with my subtle body goes back as far as I can remember. Did anyone else lie in the grass and stare at the sky, contemplating the vastness of the universe? Or how about having the very clear understanding in elementary school that, when I am in-between lives talking with my soul team, I can “choose” my life events. Soul contracts anyone?
Back to class. We routinely practice breath work, which is one of the channels of our life force. Ancient yogi’s believed that by learning to control our breath, we can connect the conscious to the unconscious. Again, this gets super deep, but trust me when I say breath control is important. We see this in therapy as well, especially in clients who suffer from anxiety or have experienced trauma. Learning how to regulate the autonomic nervous system goes a long way in reducing panic and fight or flight responses. Other methods of maintaining health in our subtle body is through meditation and mantras. Guess who has two thumbs and is super excited to chant during class? This girl!
In the 196 Sutras, we learn about how the mind works and gets bogged down in chatter. Then we learn how to harness the power of the mind to attain liberation (or find happiness). This is where we see specific guidelines on breath control and meditation. Interestingly enough, there is only one thing said about our physical body, and that is to sit with steadiness and ease. Westernized power yogi’s maybe misunderstood this one a smidge. 😉 Patanjali goes on to describe the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which are like rules for how to achieve freedom. They include concepts like practicing non-violence, being truthful, don’t steal, practice moderation, be flexible to change… starting to sound familiar? The remainder are made up of the practices of meditation, asana, breath work, etc.
It got me thinking, is it really that easy? Is the answer that simple? Is finding peace really not as complicated as we are led to believe? More than 5000 years ago we were given a pretty basic “prescription”. Yet we spend years in therapy believing we are broken, millions of dollars on self-help to “fix” us, and time and again it all seems to boil down to some basic truths. That underneath it all, we are whole. That at our core, we are divine. We are powerful. We are light. We are love. We are connected. Whatever spiritual path you walk, I bet you can correlate some teaching or truth to those found in yoga.
I think part of the human experience is learning how to navigate the joys and sorrows life offers. The reason yoga acknowledges the multi-level Kosha framework is to acknowledge that without the physical layer experiences, our soul does not grow. The gift of these teachings is that we can navigate life by using tools that have been around for over 50 centuries. Think about that for a second. Right now, in this very moment, you can engage in a practice like meditation that some human from some other century also used to gain insight and understanding to themselves. This thread (sutra), these aphorisms (simple truths), were mostly verbally passed down with a deep sense of love through a long lineage of wisdom seekers. Think about the soul-level connectedness here. More of a science person? Look up the impact of environmental experiences on epigenetics.
The beauty in their simplicity means we can manifest them in our lives in whatever way resonates to us. A night club with Snoop as the d.j. is probably the last place you’d think of as holding an opportunity for spiritual connection, but let me school you as to why it is! Music has been a long-time vehicle for aligning hearts and minds. Music is a universal language. Remember this crazy phenomenon? Or how about the power of this? Ever see a flash mob? Or watch Ellen? There is never a time when I am at a live music event where I am not getting chills at the moment when everyone in the room is united with a single-pointed concentration, joining their voices, hearts and soul to singing along. We practice this same thing in chanting mantras in a group. In that unity, you find divinity.
So I guess what it comes back to is that it really can be that simple. That our practice of remembering the basics allows us to remember who we are. The daily commitment to this practice is what allows us to act compassionately with love and understanding no matter the situation. It helps erase the divisiveness that toxic polarities perpetuate. So whether you resonate more with the physical body than the emotional, mental or spiritual bodies, you always have a path that will lead you to peace. In the weeks to come, I hope to help you put these practices into play in your own life here in the 21st century.
🙏🏻 Namaste 🙏🏻.