Your Cosmic Body
Ayurveda and Yoga
Yoga, union of individual consciousness with Universal Consciousness, is a process of physiological and psychological alchemy. To understand this from an alchemical perspective, we must understand the 3 energies of the doshas and their subtle energies.
You are made of three cosmic forces: vata, pitta, kapha.
- Vata translates as “the wind” and is the air element.
- Pitta translates as “the power of digestion” and is the fire element.
- Kapha translates as “what makes things stick together” and is water held in earth.
You are created with each of these forces in unique combination. Understanding your unique combination is vital in maintaining optimal health of body-mind-spirit. You can find out your combinations by taking the dosha quiz at www.doshaguru.com.
The vital essence of the doshas used in yoga alchemy:
- vata essence is prana
- pitta essence is tejas
- kapha essence is ojas
In yoga practice, we are transforming and bringing balance to the psyche and body. These subtle energies can be defined as:
- Prana – primordial life force
- Tejas – inner radiance, outer luster
- Ojas – primal vigor
These three are interdependent of each other and dance together to create animation, health and vitality in the body. A serious yogi lives a lifestyle that increases and builds the subtle energies rather than depleting them. To do that we start with Ojas.
Ojas: The juice that is created from every function that happens throughout the physical body. Ojas is an actual biological substances in the body rather than just energetic. This is creating immunity and longevity in the body.
To build ojas:
- Diet – using what is right for your constitution.
- Tonic herbs – plants that produce soma or substance.
- Sexual energy – conscious and regulated discharge of the reproductive fluid.
- Sense awareness – conscious maintenance of the sense organs. Much energy is lost here.
- Emotional Awareness – This energy is potent and can be used to build or deplete ojas. Bhakti yoga is a means for cultivation of this energy.
When ojas is healthy, like a concentrate of a thousand roses used to make a drop of rose oil, you can use it for tejas.
Tejas: the burning flame of pure intelligence and illumination. This fire burns ignorance.
To build tejas:
- Discipline of activities – fasting, walking before dawn, practicing silence or other energy preservation and building self-disciplines will increase determination and tejas.
- Mantra repetition – develops inner fire through sound vibration and controlling aimless mind chatter.
- Discipline of activities- fasting, waking before dawn, practicing silence or other self-disciplines
- Mantra repetition- develops inner fire through sound vibration and controlling aimless mind
- Concentration – Focusing on one thing at a time increases inner fire.
- Study of knowledge – Knowledge increases intelligence which itself is fire.
- Anything that directs your attention, focus, will and determination will increase tejas.
Once ojas and tejas are full, we can tend to prana.
Prana: The primordial life-force and the bridge between individual consciousness and Universal Consciousness.
Prana is made of FIVE types.
- Prana- forward moving air, receptivity and nourishment from all pranas in the body. Exhale
- Apana- Down and out moving air, moves things out. Inhale
- Samana- balancing air, aids digestion and discernment. Pause
- Udana- upward moving air, giving self-expression, will and strength.
- Vyana- outward moving air, circulation, free flow of everything in the body.
To increase prana:
- Pranayama- Conscious movement and integration of the vital energies
- Meditation – Creating more space in the body gives rise to increase in prana. When we are internally cluttered, there is no space. Prana will fill the space, but you must first create the space.
- Practicing the 4 paths to yoga-
- Bhakti-emotion, compassion, love
- Karma- action and service
- Raja- integration of life and meditation
Energy moves in all directions and the word prana is a cover story for that concept. Like all cover stories, there is more to the story that is not always readily available. I haven’t been to a yoga studio in a while so I am not sure if this is still true, but I used to hear teachers refer to prana as air. Although prana is not air or food, in can be found in air and in food. It is the “etheric double” or the invisible vitality that animates everything. Much like our digestive system, our energy system can only use what it can digest. Yoga asana and breathing practices increase the digestibility of energy and physical matter and are therefore paramount to our health. Here are the 5 pranas:
- Prana- forward moving energy, receptivity and nourishment from all pranas in the body. Exhale
- Apana- Down and out moving energy, moves things out. Base. Inhale
- Samana- balancing energy, aids digestion and discernment as the fire in the belly. Navel. Kumbhaka. Fusion of prana and apana into central channel. When breathe pauses naturally, energy enters the central channel.
- Udana- upward rising energy, belching and vomiting, giving self-expression, will and strength. Throat/mouth. Kundalini Shakti can rise up to the crown.
- Vyana- outward moving energy, circulation, extension of limbs, free flow of everything in the body. Chest. Kundalini Shakti unites with Kundalini Shiva in the crown and has the capacity to pervade everything in all times and spaces also known as awakening.
What you need to know:
You can connect with the subtle energy of everything in your life.
- If you are experiencing decreased overall energy levels: breath and connect with what you consume. Imagine extracting/sharing vitality with all that you are consuming. Visualize energy from above and below you are entering into every pore of your body.
- Bowel evacuation troubles: breath and visualize energy moving downward into your sacrum. Imagine that energy grounding you to the Earth below you.
- Decision making challenges: breath and visualize energy moving as an inward spiral.
- Any challenge with the voice or throat: Inhale a ball of energy into the throat. Hold it there and retain the breath. On your exhale, let sound come out. Any sound that feels naturally arising and wants to come out.
- Decreased circulation: Open your arms like you are going to hug someone. Take a breath in and retain the breath. On the exhale bring the hands to the chest. Visualize energy moving from your center chest out in all directions. Repeat.
These are just a few basic examples of ways you can practically work with prana.
Here is a basic breakdown of a place to start with your yoga practice. Yoga asana, or postural yoga, moves the vital energies through the organs and the bodily tissues. It is meant to prepare and strengthen the body for increased levels of energy and the daily challenges every human contends with in life. Yoga assists in the realization of your perfection and unity with Universal Consciousness. The gift of yoga has its roots much deeper than we have been shown in the mainstream. Yoga and Ayurveda are life sciences and are the best path to wholeness I have yet to see.
The chakra system has its roots in tantric philosophy and has been made popular in the West by hatha and kundalini yoga. A chakra is a wheel or vortex of energy in the body. Many believe that these centers are controlled by organs that are nearby and that there are colors associated with each energy center. It is my understanding that these ideas and concepts came from westerners who worked with energy when yoga first came to the west. Enough of them agreed that the energy centers in the body were synonymous with certain organs and had certain colors. In India, I received the teachings on chakras void of these ideas and concepts. I feel that there is an original map of the energy in the body and people have perceived that energy in numerous different ways over time. In my experience, the “color” is not seen but felt and the organs nearby aren’t always involved in what the energy is communicating. This is an area for you to explore with an open mind and do your best to not get caught in the mind field traps. I will present the chakra information in the way the you will likely find it (with the colors of the rainbow) with the disclaimer that energy in the body is free to do and be anything. It will communicate in its own way. Our job is to stay connected to our center, or central column, and be open to receive.
Learning to feel a color:
Seeing with your senses is what I call “seeing with my eyes closed.” Energy is subtle at first and can take practice learning to communicate with. Here is a game to play that will increase your sensitivity to feeling a color:
Gather your energy into your central column, your spine, or your midline. Eyes open or closed, breath in and imagine gathering up all of you in energy form. This can be like seeing all your energy tentacles being retracted into your body and you becoming so full of yourself that all the chaotic energy automatically disengages. Keep inhaling your energy and on the exhales let everything soften and integrate. Bring your awareness to a pet or someone you know. Ask yourself, “What does this being’s energy feel like in color form?” Let a color arise in your awareness. What does this color feel like? Does it have a texture? How does it smell? What does it taste like? As many questions as you can ask, allow your bodymind to respond. Honor and respect whatever arises as valid information.
- First Chakra, Sanskrit name: Muladhara- located at the base of the spine and the sacral plexus, represents Earth element. Bija mantra, LAM and noted as a 4 petaled lotus. Meditation on muladhara helps the practitioner to gain breath and mind control and knowledge of past present and future.
This is the place where Kundalini Shakti, the energy of manifest form, resides. Many people believe this energy needs to be activated or “awakened” for progress in spirituality and healing. But this energy moves as she needs to and does not necessarily need to be activated or awakened. The awakening happens in the right timing. What we can do is prepare the ground and pathways in the body to better accommodate her movements.
- Second Chakra, Sanskrit name: Svadhisthana- at genital organs and regenerative organs, represents Water element. Bija mantra, VAM and noted as a 6 petaled lotus. Meditation on this center improves psychic awareness, intuition, and knowledge of astral entities.
The area in the body can be a place of guilt and shame in both men and women. It is a highly energy rich area that often gets over stimulation or avoidance, which is stimulation without movement. It is easy to deplete this chakra and feel burned out or have excessive amounts of energy and feel anxious. Taking salt water baths or spending time near natural bodies of water can be extremely helpful in balancing this area. Eating foods that help to balance and maintain water metabolism such as celery, watermelon, grapes, cucumber and other juicy plants can be advantageous in efforts to bring harmony.
- Third Chakra, Sanskrit name: Manipura- navel region at solar plexus. Energy is fiery (tejas) and the name Manipura roughly translates to lustrous gem. The bija mantra is RAM and there are 10 lotus petals. Meditation here gives inner strength, powers of discernment, freedom from disease and fear.
Inner will power and ego identification are predominating here. There will be a strong sense of self with firm yet loving boundaries. Powerful dictators and “pushover” people are deficient in this area. When manipura is strong, there is no need to control or have power over others. The person will stand up for themselves and eventually be so centered that the need to stand up for oneself diminishes. Many people in spiritual communities have weak ego identification largely due to the belief that ego is bad. This can lead to long-term problems which can be remedied though understanding and acceptance of the egoic nature and its rightful place in a human life.
- Fourth Chakra, Sanskrit name: Anahata- heart region at cardiac plexus. Energy is that of air and the name translates as unstruck, referring to the sound that comes without striking. The lotus has 12 petals and it’s bija mantra is YAM. Meditation here opens powers of universal love, forgiveness and direct realization of the cosmic connection between inner and outer as one.
The heart center easily becomes burdened by belief that love and compassion are generated here. The heart is more like a motor than a container for love and compassion. The heart can integrate and move universal love, acceptance, forgiveness throughout the entire body while the chakra integrates and acts on the cosmic plane. When the heart chakra is healthy, there is equality in all beings and acceptance is reflected inside and out.
- Fifth Chakra, Sanskrit name: Vishudda- throat region at laryngeal plexus. The energy here is that of space, it is a 16 petal lotus and its bija mantra HAM. Meditation here connects the individual to the Infinite.
I call this chakra the cosmic cave of wonders. It is here that a great merging of past, present, future happens and many psychic experiences can unfold. Although, this can happen anywhere in the body, the throat is the bridge between the earth process of body mechanics and the workings of the magical and mysterious following two chakras.
- Sixth Chakra, Sanskrit name: Ajna- between eyebrows at the nerve plexus of the sympathetic nervous system that lies on each side of the sella turcica, Turkish saddle, or seat of the pituitary gland. This chakra has 2 petals and its bija mantra is OM. Meditation on this chakra gives connection to higher intelligence, great inner and outer sight, and strong intuitive powers.
The red portion is the seat that holds the pituitary gland.
I call this the 1st Eye and practice turning my eyes inward which allows the practitioner to look within while the physical eyes are closed. Many of the modern foods and technology are harmful to this center. Some notables are fluoride in tap water, soda, artificial lighting, and looking at screens. Some healing things for this center are, raw cacao, drinking pure water, craniosacral therapy, using crystals (fluorite is a good one), doing eye exercises, practicing intuitive games, and spending time out in nature. Anything that detoxifies the body will be helpful in strengthening the third eye chakra.
- Seventh Chakra, Sanskrit name: Sahasrara- at the crown of the head and corresponds with the pineal gland. This is a thousand-petal lotus and is the seat of the upper kundalini or urdhva kundalini. This is known as Shiva kundalini. When Shakti kundalini from the root meets with Shiva Kundalini in the crown, the practitioner experiences extreme states of bliss, the highest knowledge, and has an enlightenment experience.
There is no bija manta here and in the texts that I have seen, this area is very secret and not mentioned much beyond speculation. My basic understanding is that this is the place we connect to our individual with the cosmic consciousness. The sound I associate here is all sounds tightly woven together so much that there is no description that I can replicate. The silent sound of vibration. Anytime your bring your awareness to this area, you are doing a great amount of good to your sahasrara/crown chakra.
One of the most taboo, esoteric and unfortunately misunderstood concepts is that of kundalini. Upon research on this topic, I learned that the word kundalini appeared for the first time in the 7th century in a Tantrik text in Kashmir.
What you need to know:
Your body is electric. There are power centers in the body and 2 main ones we work with in yoga. One in the base of the spine (Kundalini Shakti) and one in the crown (Kundalini Siva). If your kundalini yoga practice only emphasizes raising energy up to the crown, be aware that there needs to be an equal attention to bringing that energy down or disaster is likely. Just look at what happens in any system that favors one side over the other. Yoga practice works directly on energy and blowing a circuit is real. Balance is key.
Everything in the physical realm has an energetic or etheric double. No thing that we see with our eyes is without an energetic component. This concept pervades all existence in life. There are said to be 72,000 nadis in the pranic sheath and three of which we place great attention. The central channel, or sushumna nadi, and the two nadis on either side, ida and pingala.
- Left brain
- Right brain
Many of the aspects of a yoga practice aim to purify these nadis which allow more energy to move in, out, through and around the way it moves in its expanded state. Pranayama/breathing practices are extremely powerful and potent methods for bringing wholeness to your energy, body, and entire life. This topic is vast and I highly recommend researching before implementing a practice. Two safe and effective practices are kapalabhati and anuloma viloma which are beneficial for balancing and purifying ida and pingala.
“We often come to a practice like yoga feeling inadequate and looking for a way to get better, right, healed, or fixed. But you are not broken or wrong and having this be the foundation of your practice will only lead to more proof to your original belief. We practice yoga to get closer to embodying the truth of existence and beginning with this at your starting point will be a far greater ally in your journey. The power/energy that created us, is still us. It didn’t make us and then run off to some distant place where it can laugh at, judge and punish us.”