How's Your Subtle Body Doing?

How do you take care of your subtle body? I’m pretty sure you have a number of ways to look after your physical being. We know the importance of keeping healthy and this usually is focused on the level of muscles, tissues, bones, joints, organs or viscera. Increasingly we are aware of mental health and the need to keep the mind healthy as well. From a holistic perspective though we need to include the subtle form in our striving for health.

You may not be familiar with the subtle body, so I’ll attempt to give you a crash course and some simple techniques that will help you in the long run.

When you begin to deepen your yoga journey you come face to face with an entirely new understanding of anatomy and physiology. I won’t explore the physical form here, you should be well versed in it based on your previous education and experience. The best way to have a sense of your subtle body is to sit for a moment with your eyes closed and explore your body by moving awareness through it. You will notice things on the physical level first. After a few minutes of inner awareness, you will start to notice sensations. There are pockets of tingling or energy where the body feels more alive or awake. Think of this as your energy body.

The sensations you feel are known as prana, or lifeforce, in yoga. According to the yoga tradition, prana is the animating force that makes us tick. We derive prana through breath primarily and food too. We cultivate and contain prana in a number of ways, including pranayama which is essentially breath control techniques. We can also use our physical practices to enhance prana when taught well, just as practices can deplete prana when done contrary to your needs. A depleted person doing an intense physical yoga practice is going to further deplete themself, for example.

Prana functions in five specific ways in specific areas within the physical form. It is therefore important to know which of these areas need addressing and use physical practice and pranayama to help out. The five pranas address functions like invigoration, assimilation, elimination, circulation and aspiration. If any of these functions are not working well, it may be time for a prana tune-up!

Prana travels through some 72,000 channels in the body known as nadis. If the flow of prana is disrupted due to blocked nadis, the main functions are impeded. Yoga asana is a great beginning to purify and unblock the nadis. A balanced hatha class is ideal for this purpose. Pranayama forces breath in a manner that furthers this work.

Aside from the importance of balancing the pranas, there are subtle states of the mind known as gunas which also must be considered for optimal health. These mental states are sattva, rajas and tamas.

A sattvic mind is one that flows harmoniously, is content and is at peace. It easily deals with stress and doesn’t rely on external stimulation. The sattvic mind is clear.

A rajasic mind seeks stimulation and rewards. It is energized by change and thrives on action and even stress. The rajasic mind is diffuse and hard to still.

The tamasic mind is steeped in inertia. It is characterized by slowness and being stuck, it becomes protective and withdrawn. The tamasic mind is dull.

The goal of yoga, regardless of style, is to arrive at a more sattvic mind and to rest in that state more often. More sattva will impact this troubled world where so many are stuck in rajasic and tamasic states of being.

Sattva is cultivated by working with the breath to cultivate a smooth and easy flow. Even physical practice can help to cultivate this state if taught well. I’m including here, for the first time, a practice to provide you with proof of what I say. Please feel free to share this 45-minute practice with others. The move sattva we can build the better. (Click to watch.)

If this approach to yoga speaks to you; if you are interested in learning more about the subtle realms of yoga; and if you want more information or direction on your personal practice, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with me. Who knows where it may take you.

Have a fabulous week exploring your subtle being.


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