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Yoga And Your Light Body

BY Parvati

Since childhood, I have had a strong connection with the unseen world, perceiving things that others often don’t notice. These gifts were greatly amplified during a life-changing year in India, where I went to deepen my yoga and meditation practice, and where I took my first of three yoga teacher training programs.
For the year that followed my return to my home in Toronto, Canada, I would sit next to someone on the subway and involuntarily see both what their life had been like at three years of age and what it would be like at eighty-three. With time and practice, I learned how to be present for the insights as they came, and how to balance the amplitude of information.
This subtle awareness allows me today to feel present within a rich tapestry of life that spans far beyond the limitations of form. Showing me the amazing light infrastructure of our human bodies, it has also been invaluable in the development of YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine and my practice and teaching of yoga. In this week’s blog post, I would like to share more with you about the phenomenal nature of our bodies and why yoga is so relevant for us all.
If you were to sit beside me, I would sense your presence. I would not only feel if your body were hot or cold, or if you were happy or sad. I would also perceive how we each are not limited to a separate self. Our bodies, which may appear solid, would feel to me like intricate information highways. I would sense how they connect us to the whole, of which we are each an integral part. As we sat together, your body would look to me like a vast array of fibre optics connected to the very fabric of life.
You are literally the stuff of which the universe is made. The physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual sheaths of your body/being are woven into this fabric in a way that completely supports your greatest good in every moment. It is so for you, me and every living thing.
These pathways of light and energy have been explored in Eastern traditions as the nadis (in yogic texts) or the meridians (in traditional Chinese medicine). They exist within the subtler sheaths of your form. Prana, life-force energy, travels along these pathways within your subtle body.
As I look at the intricate light infrastructure of a living human body, I may see areas of greater light, where energy flows freely, and areas that are dim or dark, suggesting that the energy is congested and there may be some weakness or even disease.
Hatha Yoga helps you cultivate the healthy flow of prana within your body by resolving stuck areas. It allows your body to be a conduit for divine life-force energy in the world. This is one of the foremost purposes of the practice of YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, the type of yoga I teach in my DVDs and workshops.
I share below a quick overview of two independent systems that document the body’s healthy energy flow. May you feel inspired by the extraordinary bio-electrical and vibrational phenomenon of your body’s energy pathways!
NADIS
Yogic scriptures suggest that there are 72,000 to 300,000 nadis, or energy pathways, in your body. Of these, there are 14 major nadis. All are said to spring from a point below the navel referred to as the Kanda, or hen’s egg. The most key among these nadis is the sushumna, the central channel within the spine.
The sushumna is referred to by some as the channel by which kundalini energy is awakened and travels up the spine to the crown of the head. Kundalini, or serpent energy, is thought by many to be an energy that lies latent at the base of the spine and is to be awakened to arise up the spine. It is thought that when the kundalini energy reaches the crown chakra, one attains enlightenment. Yet, based on the Yoga Yagnavalkya to which TKV Desikachar refers in his book The Heart of Yoga, and based upon my own direct experience, the kundalini energy is not what awakens to enter the sushumna and rise up to the crown of the head. The energy rising through the sushumna is simply prana, life-force energy. Kundalini is an obstacle to the free flow of prana, and is burnt away through the transformational heat of spiritual awakening.
The next most key nadis are the ida and pingala, which interlace in a double helix pattern around the spine. The points where they meet are energy centers known as chakras. The ida, which is thought of as pale, is associated with the moon and with feminine energy. The pingala is thought of as reddish, associated with the sun and with masculine energy. The interplay of these two nadis governs our sympathetic and parasympathetic responses: metabolism, heart rate, etc.
The other major nadis weave around the first three nadis and/or each other, to connect with points in the head and limbs. They include the Gandhari, Hastajihva, Kuhu, Saraswati, Pusha, Sankhini, Payasvini, Varuni, Alambusha, Vishvodhara and Yasasvini nadis. Ayurvedic practitioners study the flow of these nadis and how they are reflected in our physical health.
MERIDIANS
Traditional Chinese medicine considers that qi, vital life-force energy, has both yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) qualities, and travels through the body along meridians. Practices such as acupuncture are designed to support the healthy flow of this energy.
There are 14 major meridians, of which two flow in the central channel. These are the Governing Vessel at the crown of the head, and the Conception Vessel at the base of the spine, to which the Governing Vessel flows. The other 12 meridians are paired, where each upward-flowing yin meridian for one organ meets a downward-flowing yang meridian for another organ. Each meridian is related to an element: earth, metal, fire, wood or water.
Practitioners of Ayurveda or Chinese medicine have made studies of the correspondence between the nadis and the meridians. There is significant overlap, but not an exact correspondence, between these two systems.
CHAKRAS
Along with the nadis, the body has seven major energy centres known as chakras. The word chakra literally translates to wheel, and it is thought that the energy spins in these centres.
ROOT: The root energy center, or muladhara (“root” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located at the base of the spine around the perineum between the genitals and the anus. Illnesses that affect everything from the soles of your feet to the base of your spine are governed by this energy center. This energy center tends to be about yourself, your rooting in this world, how you are anchored, the foundations you stand on. It tends to relate to your feelings and your experiences with your tribe, your primary family, and issues of survival. The element of earth rules this energy center. An invocation you can embody for healthy root center is “I am”.
SACRUM: The sacrum energy center, or svadhisthana (“one’s own base” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located in the pelvis, just below the navel. It predominantly governs the sexual organs, the low back and the lower abdominal area. This energy center tends to be about your relationship with yourself and another. In other words, it is about your emotional fluidity and how you flow within life as a whole. It is ruled by the element of water. An invocation you can embody for a healthy sacrum is “I am beauty”. This is not an identification with being “beautiful”, but a recognition that you are one with the essence of life which is beauty, just as nature is beauty. You are here to trust in the flow of life of which you are an integral part.
SOLAR PLEXUS: The solar plexus energy center, or manipura (“jewel city” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located just above the navel. It governs the upper abdomen and the organs of digestion, and is ruled by the element of fire. This energy center relates to how you maintain your sense of self within a group and your ability to act in ways that honour who you are. Because of this, boundary issues are reflected here. An invocation you can embody for a healthy solar plexus center is “I can”.
HEART: The heart center, or anahata (“unstruck bell” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located in the front of the chest. It governs the heart, lungs, all organs, vertebrae and tissues that are in the chest area. This energy center is about learning to transcend your personal needs, already expressed in the first three energy centers, and tap into the transpersonal and unconditional. It is ruled by the element of air. An invocation you can embody for a healthy heart is “I am joy”.
THROAT: The throat center, or vishuddhi (“pure” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located at the base of the neck in the soft tissue above the clavicle. It is ruled by ether, and sound. It governs the area of the body that relates to sound through the neck and mouth. This energy center relates to your speech, what you vocalize, your ability to be truthful and honest, and the actualization of your soul’s voice, your trust in divine guidance. An invocation you can embody for a healthy throat is “I am sound”.
THIRD EYE: The third eye, or ajna (“command” in Sanskrit) chakra, is located just above the space between the eyebrows at the center of the forehead. It governs the organs of the head. It relates to your ability to perceive clearly, to see through illusion to what is real and experience yourself and all life as light. An invocation we can embody for a healthy third eye is “I am light”.
CROWN: The crown energy center, or sahasrara (“thousand-petalled lotus” in Sanskrit) chakra is located at the top of your head, in the center of the crown. It oversees the way you flow between the cosmos and the physical. As such, it affects your overall soul blueprint and architecture, the way spirit manifests into form. The relationship between the physical and the metaphysical is expressed as the interplay between your bioelectrical field, biochemical field and tissue field as a biodynamic whole, within the greater whole of everything that is. An invocation you can embody for a healthy crown energy center is “Isness”.
CONCLUSION
I love the poem by Mirabai that states,
“O friend, understand:
the body is like the ocean,
rich with hidden treasures.
Open your innermost chamber and light its lamp.
Within the body are gardens,
Rare flowers, peacocks, the inner music;
within the body a lake of bliss,
On it the white soul-swans take their joy.”
Yogic scriptures have always understood the body’s aliveness within the vast and vibrant universe. Your body is an intricate, masterfully designed, multi-dimensional, co-creative vehicle that facilitates your connection with a greater reality than that of the ego. It offers you the potential in every moment to be of service to the planet, simply by the energy you choose to amplify.
It seems to me that most of us have barely begun to understand the tremendous capacity inherent in the body. Yoga contains keys to help us unlock the treasure stores within the body. Let us dive into the depths of its rich wisdom to transform our lives and bring light into the world.
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one earth family. Parvati
PS: A reminder that a solar eclipse is coming up on August 21. Its effects will already start to be felt by the 18th and will last through the 22nd. To find out more about the power of spiritual practice during an eclipse, please visit last week’s blog.
PPS: The September 2017 issue of Parvati Magazine goes live on August 17th at parvatimagazine.com! Stay tuned for wonderful content on the theme of “Commitment”.