Thank you to my incredible yoga teachers over the years for everything you have taught me. This is dedicated to:
- Jaimis Huff
- Sharon Gannon and David Life - Jivamukti Yoga
- Jafar Alexander
- Andrey Lappa - Universal Yoga
All of these pages are works in progress. Please comment if you notice something that is incorrect or should be added.
Most yoga I’ve come across in society is primarily a physical workout with the teacher explaining how I should be more positive and say Om and Namaste at the end.
But what is yoga?
Yoga is the science of controlling the attention and creating a balanced internal state across all of our being’s shells or koshas.
In more traditional terms, in 1.2 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras states:
yogash chitta vritti nirodah
Yogash - Yoga
Chitta - Mind
Vritti - Fluctuation
Nirodah - Cessation/Restraint
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
We are comprised of five shells (or seven depending on which map you use):
- Anamaya Kosha - Physical Body which is like flesh and bones. An important point to realize here is that our physical bodies are memory. This means that our memories are stored in different parts of our body and we can actually learn where specific emotions will land in the body (example - stress in shoulders)
- Pranamaya Kosha - Energy Body which is like a network of cables that runs prana/energy through them
- Manomaya Kosha - Emotional Body which is like how we feel and our expressions
- Vijnanamaya Kosha - Wisdom Body which is like our intellect
- Anandamaya Kosha - Bliss Body which is like our spirit
There are no clear lines where one shell ends and another begins. All are operating together and generally, some are more balanced than others. When people say we are ‘multi-dimensional’ beings, I think this is what they mean.
Each shell is like a mirror. These mirrors get dirty due to factors including:
- Harmful conditioning from parents or society
- Rnanubandhanas or karmic debts from previous lifetimes
- New karmic debts created in this lifetime
- Injuries to the physical body
Yoga is a prescription for dirty mirrors, like Windex. Once all mirrors are clean, we are in balance and radiate our authentic self. Once balance (yoga) is achieved, that is where tantra begins (which we’ll come back to).
So the root of the problem is that our attention is scattered. It needs to be trained, especially in this age of social media. We must control our doors of perception.
So if one wants to clean their shells and gain mastery over their attention, what is the best place to begin?
Raja Yoga is a helpful guide. Raja Yoga is an eight-limbed path to achieve a state of yoga:
- Yama - self-regulating behaviors that affect external circumstances
- Niyama - practices that affect internal circumstances
- Asana - physical postures (this is usually what one does when they 'go to a yoga class')
- Pranayama - breathing exercises to activate and manipulate prana (energy)
- Pratyahara - withdrawing all sensory perceptions to the root of attention in the back of the head
- Dharana - single-pointed focus of all attention
- Dhyana - passive experiencing in a neutral position
- Samadhi - state of meditative absorption
Swami Vivekananda explains each limb these at length in his book Raja Yoga.
Each one of these limbs of Raja Yoga also helps an aspiring yogi move towards a kundalini awakening. Some teachers say that activating the kundalini energy is a main point of a yoga practice. Every effort in yoga can be consciously directed towards creating the internal conditions for a kundalini awakening.
Kundalini energy is sitting at the base of the spine, typically dormant. It is a powerful energy that when activated feels similar to the energy generated from an orgasm. It kind of acts like Draino in our energetic system. Using a combination of mantras, bandhas, and mudras, advanced practitioners can manipulate the kundalini energy up through the body. When the kundalini energy is activated, and connected from the root of the spine all the way through the crown of the head, a state known as tantric ecstatic samadhi can occur, which is pure bliss.
The energetic structure of the body is comprised of 72,000 channels called nadis. There are three primary nadis that I've been taught about:
- Ida - moon, left, female
- Pingala - sun, right, male
- Sushumna - central central that kundalini energy must move through to achieve a kundalini awakening.
You have probably seen images like:
Both of these represent the three channels discussed above.
Everyone has probably heard the word chakra at this point in time. When I first heard about chakras I didn't think they were 'real'. I now understand that 'real' is a complicated term, and chakras for our purposes do exist.
If we are sitting cross legged on the ground, we can separate our body into seven energetic centers, which are the chakras. Here are the seven chakras and the areas associated with them:
- Muladhara - base of spine - survival
- Svadhisthana - sexual center - creativity and sexuality
- Manipura - solar plexus - wisdom, power
- Anahata - heart - love
- Vishuddha - throat - communication
- Ajna - forehead - awareness
- Sahasrara - above head - spirituality/connection to divine
Here is a picture of the energetic centers in a visual format:
There is a great book, Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith, that I recommend reading if one is interested to learn more about the chakras:
Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System (Llewellyn's New Age)
Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System (Llewellyn's New Age) [Anodea Judith] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System (Llewellyn's New Age)
So now you can probably imagine the trident or snake image on top of the chakras and how they go together. So how can we get that energy moving out of the root and up those chakras?
A good place to start is to understand some mechanics of the body:
MISC NEED TO SORT OR PLACE
Religion as Technology - create dogma that is based in yogic technology to create specific results.