The Main Reason We Practice Yoga…To Find Bliss

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The core reason we practice yoga is to experience bliss and become one with ourselves through synchronizing the mind-body connection.

Yoga helps us access the koshas, teaching us that everything we need to feel whole, is already within us, and allowing us to feel bliss along the way. The kosha are 5 sheaths or layers surrounding our true self, which is in the center.

As you discover, explore and release each koshic layer, you open up to the next layer and the next, eventually leading you to bliss and allowing you to connect with your true self, full of love, light and peace. This is apart of the yoga experience. Let me guide you to meet your 5 koshas.

1. Annamaya Kosha
This is the physical body composed of the muscles, joints, organs, cells, glands. You notice this layer when you first sit on your mat and are called to notice what’s going on with your body. Tightness in your back, aching in your knees, cramping in your toes, or other physical imbalances.

As you begin to flow through your practice, you start to become more aware of your physical kosha through engaging muscles or sensing temperature changes on your skin. At some point you relax, your shoulders come down from your ears, your gluts stop compensating for your abs, you become aware of where your physical body is without having to purposefully think about getting in the pose. You start to focus more on the breath and in that moment you have just moved into the next layer.

2. Pranamaya Kosha
The energy body concerned with the breath and flow of energy through the physical body using the circulatory and respiratory systems, as well as the chakras reside in this layer.

At this point of your yoga session you are flowing through your poses and can begin to shift and focus on your breathing, maybe even playing around with different pranayama techniques (art of breathing), like ujjayi breath, kapalabhati, sithali while holding certain poses. In coordinating your breath with your poses you are connecting your physical body and breath bodies. At some point in your yoga practice your breathing goes on automatic and you enter the 3rd layer.

3. Manomaya Kosha
The mental and emotional layer concerned with processing thoughts and emotions. This kosha also gives access to the vrittis, the waves of thought or modifications of the mind. This is the “lower brain,” it interprets every situation, moment or thing. It can be full of doubts and create illusions. This is the part of you that usually brings up your to-do lists, tells you you aren’t strong enough to hold the pose, or that the girl in front of you is doing it better.

Most people, with much practice can get through the first three koshas with ease. When your physical and breath body are synchronized, your mind becomes slowed, even quiet, it can serve as a teacher, telling you to tighten the insides of your thighs to stay in eagle pose, or take the backward bent to give your back a good stretch.

However, when you lose the synchronicity of your breath and physical being, your thoughts can become erratic causing you to lose balance or lose focus, and at some point you start to observe these thoughts, without judging or criticizing, just noticing, and that brings you to the next layer.

4. Vijnanamaya Kosha
The wisdom, intelligent, or the witness/observer of your thoughts. It’s the layer that distinguishes positive and negative thoughts, and the thoughts that will serve your practice or life and the ones that won’t.

This kosha can be experienced in short bursts initially, where you aren’t thinking about squeezing your abs or how hot it is, or about keeping your inhales and exhales equal, or about the past or the future, it’s just experiencing the moment. You sense an inner peace or power that is holding you in airplane or tree or crow, and you smile without even knowing it. If you are in Savasana you lose touch with your physical body, breath and thoughts, you almost are an outside observer, this is Vijamaya Kosha.

As you become more aware of this kosha, there is a natural sense of wholeness, of being one, of being in bliss; you are now in the last layer.

5. Anandamaya Kosha
Bliss, unending love, peace, joy, and happiness, independent of a reason. This layer is the inner most layer, right outside your atman or true self (center of consciousness).

It takes honest practice to get through to this layer, but once there you will know it, sense it and want more. To get to this layer, one must practice stillness, meditation, even if it’s to sense it for a moment. Its the awareness of being whole and complete, exactly as you are. “You are beautiful, you are bountiful, you are blissful.” Translating the inner bliss to others and keeping faith for humanity. Recognizing we are all beautiful and no man gets left behind.

Our true self shines through only when we can carry over the practice of yoga, off the mat, into our lives. You can now access true wisdom and bliss, in any moment by being aware of your thoughts using your body-breath-mind connection.
“Its hot, I’m tight.” Annamaya Kosha
Paying attention to your breathing. Pranamaya Kosha
“I am so tired, I am upset.” Manomaya Kosha
These thoughts don’t define me. Vijamaya Kosha
Sensing yourself in deep meditation, lucid dreaming.
Feel whole, belonging, connected. Anandamaya Kosha

Namaste ♥

Photo Credit: American Meditation Institute

Love is My Truth

There was a time when fear ruled my heart,
There was a time I thought laughing about your weaknesses was good thing.

I am wiser now.
I know my truth now.
I am love and love doesn’t do those things.

There was a time when fear held me back from communicating,
There was a time when I thought standing up for myself was too exhausting,
When silence became the best option.

I am wiser now.
I know my truth now.
I am love and love doesn’t do those things.

There was a time when fear was considered good, “makes a person stronger,”
There was a time when yelling was the only way of being heard,
When being alone was all I thought I needed.

I am wiser now.
I know my truth now.
I am love and love doesn’t do those things.

There was a time when lying about my feelings would make you like me,
There was a time when accepting my own needs seemed selfish,
When comforting you seemed like the best choice.

I am wiser now.
I know my truth now.
I am love and love doesn’t do those things.

Love is my voice.
Love is my truth.
Love is me.

Pain Has a Spiritual Side

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“Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take the pain and turn it into wisdom.” –Unknown

People ask me what it is that I do? I could simply say I’m a physical therapist, but that really isn’t true… I’m a healer. I heal people in pain whether physical or emotional. Pain is simply the sensation of being hurt whether physically from injury or trauma or emotionally, mentally from an heartache, sorrow, unhappiness.

I help people get to the core of what is causing the pain, restrictions, imbalances so we can begin to heal it.

In my journey of healing myself and others, I have learned one HUGE lesson, that PAIN HAS A SPIRITUAL SIDE.

Now I know automatically the atheists are like ok I’m done and moving onto the next blog. BUT this isn’t about religion or God, although I am a God-loving woman.

This is more about the relationship between your spirit, the beautiful dreams, hopes and beliefs and your ego (persona we think we need to portray).

What does it mean to have a spiritual side to pain?

Physical pain is what we feel when we bump our elbow or cut our finger, its physical, it has a purpose for why its there and can be healed with some “physical” treatment, such as ointment, stretching, strengthening, massage, or other physical aides.

The spiritual side of physical pain develops as our body’s way of saying there is something bigger that needs addressing. It starts as physical pain from tightness or overuse, or even negative thoughts (“I know this will hurt later”, “I know I will be sore”—you are manifesting your pain). However, this type of pain cannot be “fixed” with a bandaide type treatment.

Spiritual pain stays around until we acknowledge that there is a deep-rooted longing for acceptance or incompleteness with an issue. Issues of the deepest meaning and essence of your soul, issues of karma, dharma, love, connectedness, life’s purpose.

How do you recognize the pain has a spiritual component?

Listen closely to the person in pain. Questions of “why me? What’s the point?” Thoughts and words like “No one understands. This is just how my life is now.” Feelings of hopelessness, unworthiness, isolation, and fear are present.

I started to recognize the spiritual component of a client’s pain, when she would say, ”I am always going to be in pain.” After many physical therapy treatments, I saw incredible objective changes, her mobility was improved, her strength was in functional range, her muscle restrictions were minimal to none.

However, her subjective reports remained the same. I knew her back pain started around the time of her mother’s illness. She was caring for her, transporting her, being her rock, quite literally. This all took a toll on her back, and unfortunately her mother passed away, and her back pain remained.

How do you heal the spiritual side of pain?

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” –C.S Lewis

In our sessions we had recognized the toll her mother’s death had taken not only on her body, but her mind. She was very open with me about her feelings, thoughts, grief, so I found it natural to ask her, “Do you think you keep the pain to remind yourself of the care and love you gave your mother?”

She wasn’t surprised by my question, because she knew it to be true. And this is where we discussed letting go of her pain. She recognized the pain kept her close to her mother, and she feared letting go would take away the memories of love. It was also a reminder for her own mothering, it kept her calm, focused and only able to do things she really valued.

We discussed various ways she could honor her mother. Her mother had guided her to be a massage therapist, which she loved to do. She realized if she returned to work (even for a few hours at a time), how many people’s lives she would change having been through her own journey of back pain.

Letting go of pain and fear is the hardest thing a person can overcome. However, it’s the first step to healing, and it’s the only step to moving forward and living.

She had improved reports of pain level, just by recognizing and discussing the root of her pain. She even began getting back to work…she was functioning! Functioning like a person, instead of as a symptom. Her pain was no longer a badge of honor or memorial. It was outside of her. Her life had a new meaning, she lived for herself, for happiness, to heal others.

What options are there for spiritual pain?

Its not the easiest to recognize how long a person has been carrying the “pain.” Sometimes the pain goes back to many lives and is in a sense some of the karma you’ve carried with you in this life to help your soul grow and keep rising. You hold this in the form of blocked energy in your body in your chakras.

There are many techniques to clearing out your chakras: guided meditations, mantras, certain foods, and yoga poses.

As far as other lives go, have you ever said to yourself, “I must have died in a car accident/drowned/been abandoned by my lover in a previous life?” Well maybe your soul knows something your physical being doesn’t…

Past Life Regression (PLR) is also great start for this type of pain. I have read all of Dr. Brian Weiss’s books and have tried PLR myself with awesome results! Sometimes “pain” can present emotionally as anxiety, panic attacks, heart aches, even just a sense of holding back.

No matter where your journey leads you …True healing happens when we address all the components of our pain. It’s work, time and true soul searching. I faithfully know this having dealt with spiritual side of my own pain both in this life and in other lives… but that’s another post 😉