A doodle’s worth 1,000 words, but we’re blogging yoga anyway…

A Venn diagram is fancy-pants math which demonstrates the relationship between a pair or group of things. Last week we posted that yoga means union: union within yourself, the union to each other, and the union to our world and this week we decided to use some fancy-pants math to show you how it all works together.Venn Diagram Ok, our math isn’t necessarily founded on identifiable Western logic, but it is based on knowledge that yogis have held for centuries: the five koshas (sheaths).

Our individual bodies are made up of five layers known as the koshas, the first layer is our densest or most gross layer and each layer that follows becomes more and more subtle. The layers: annamaya kosha (physical body), pranamaya kosha (energy body), manamaya kosha (mental body), vijnanamaya kosha (intellectual body), and the anandamaya kosha (blissful body), when working together properly help us to be our very best selves.

Body

The physical and energy bodies make-up our fitness body, as we move, eat, and breathe we invite in strength, stamina, and flexibility as well as nourishment for our cells. In yoga, we practice asana (posture) and pranayama (breath-work) as well as eating whole, natural foods to create wellness in our fitness bodies. But, the fitness body is just one aspect to our complete self, in order to create whole-self health we also need to work our mind and spiritual (soul) bodies as well.

Mind

Our mind body is comprised of our mental and intellectual bodies. In this case, our mental body refers to the work of our nervous system. Without our conscious awareness our nervous system reacts automatically to external stimuli delivered by our five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. While we sleep soundly our nervous system gets a chance to reset, but any time we withdraw from sensory awareness we “work-out” our mental body. For instance, savasana (corpse pose) is a wonderful opportunity to tune out from the outside world and spend a little time drawing your senses in-ward.

The second half of our mental body, our intellectual body, is more about conscious thought. When our intellectual body feels it thinks and reacts with awareness. This is where we begin to practice consideration, compassion, and kindness towards others. While our mental body is all about meeting our own needs, our intellectual body helps us to identify how others may be feeling and respond in a supportive way. Mantra (the sounds used in coordination with meditation) is one way to help stimulate your intellectual body. Aum (Om) is thought to be the original sound, it’s also the bija (seed) mantra for our seat of intuition and let’s be honest often it takes clear intuition to be able to understand the true needs of others.

Soul

Our third body, our spiritual or soul body, is also known as our blissful body. This one is far trickier than the other two to “exercise,” but you can do it! It has to do with seva (self-less work). Seva can be accomplished through a few different avenues, but let’s face it helping another person is as a good a place to start as any. There are so many ways to give back to your community; you could make someone a thank you card, you could bring food to the food shelf, or volunteer to visit someone.

Whichever path you choose today, body, mind, or spirit, find a way to work out one of your bodies; and remember if you do it with intention, it’s all yoga.

Because the United Nations says so, that’s why…

The UN membership has declared yoga to be such a fundamental part of societies around the world that on December 11, 2014, it declared June 21st as the internationally renowned day of practice. This past Tuesday marked the 2nd annual International Day of Yoga. Not that yoga needed the validation, let’s face it this practice has been around for thousands of years, but to have “a record 175 member states” vote to make this an official day feels pretty good.

Throughout its history, yoga has been developed and reworked to meet the needs of flower childpopulations, for instance, the first practices only minimally touched on asana (posture). In fact, the original practice was largely centered around meditation and breath work (pranayama), what little was done for the physical body was done in preparation for these more subtle aspects. But, as traditions and civilizations began to change so too did the world’s yoga practice. Today, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, there are 36.7M yoga practitioners in the United States alone practicing different yoga formats and aspects of yoga.

Peak into a studio and you might see a dozen or more yogis practicing Vinyasa, an athletic, intention and breath-based format, or Yin, a seated practice which focuses on passive posture allowing gravity to slowly open up the practitioner’s body. What’s more is that there are growing populations of kiddo yogis with eyes closed chanting (often giggling) their way through a series of Aum (Om).

In addition to the vast age differences of yogis, both in and out of studio, there are yogis with a varying array of body shapes and sizes, from a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and individuals with gender- and sexual-identity differences. Yoga in its truest form is a place where all people are welcome. In his address to the United Nations, when petitioning for this International Day of Yoga, Hon’ble Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi said, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

Yoga means union: the union within yourself, the union to each other, and the union to our world. Take time today to become a part of this growing community, this union of yogis and in 362-days you’ll be ready to celebrate the third annual International Day of Yoga and in the meantime you’ll find that “holistic approach to health and well-being.”

Thank you, body for working really hard today.

To me, this may be the most powerful statement that any person will ever say to themselves and it’s how my playful yogis and I end every single yoga practice. We all (humans) start out being awesome: we’re kind, sincere and helpful and then one day, we just aren’t.  It seems to happen overnight, we love and trust unconditionally and then all of a sudden – bam, we close ourselves off to unconditional. Of course we still have the capacity to love and trust unconditionally, but we start to choose with whom we share those qualities and more often than not we don’t add ourselves to that list.

Not only that, but we likely go so far as to tear ourselves down with thoughts about what Heartwe’re not good enough at and what we’d like to ‘fix’ about ourselves. But, what if every time we had the urge to chastise ourselves based on our learned biases, we instead stopped and marveled for a moment at how truly incredible the human condition, our condition, really is?

It’s ingenious how our bodies and minds work, so much so that modern science still hasn’t completely figured it out. We are super complex machines! And like mechanical machines, negative input results in negative output in our beings as well. We move through our days, more often than not, intending to be generous with ourselves and others, but when we’re confronted with external stimuli which we perceive as an affront to our condition then, we begin to turn towards judgement and a variety of emotions which cause us harm.

Maybe we’ve been taught, yes taught – we learn from history and experience, to believe that one person’s way of living is wrong or that we’re not good enough and so when we’re confronted with signs of those “wrong-doings” we feel disgust or anger or perhaps even shame. And as we hold onto these feelings, rather than identifying their root-cause and learning a new path, we are the injured party. We are hurt, not directly by what we perceived, but by how we interpret what those actions mean to us.

As time goes on and the hurt continues we fester and eventually we act out our frustrations. Think about it, how many times can you beat yourself up before you find a way to beat someone else up? Maybe it’s not a physical manifestation, but all that negativity will eventually lead to lashing out at those around us.

The good news? Just as negativity acts like a boomerang, so too does positivity and love; what you put out you get back in return! Like you, the kiddos in our lives learn through outside stimuli and you are their biggest source of inspiration. Children learn through modeling and when you model kindness towards yourself and others they share in that kindness. So, inspire the kiddos to say, “thank you” for the goodness in life and teach them how to let go of negativity, in doing so today you make it possible for tomorrow’s world to be full of kindness, love, and acceptance.