Yoga is way more than just exercise and stretching, and you are way more than just a physical body! Yoga is a life science that has been perfected over 3000 years.
When you practice Yoga (the poses, meditation, breathing, mindfulness and relaxation) you are working on multiple levels.
In Yoga these multiple levels are called the ‘Koshas’ or sheaths of your being, of which there are 5. Here is what is happening in these layers when you come to a Yoga class:-
The Physical Body
The first layer is your physical body or food body (you are what you eat!) During a class, blood flow increases to your muscles, bringing oxygen and essential nutrients to them. Your joints are also being lubricated. This allows them to function properly and repair themselves. Your muscles will also be stretched and strengthened, allowing you to become more flexible and build up strength over time.
With all the deep breathing, your parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) is switched on, slowing down your heart rate, dropping your blood pressure and increasing your lung capacity. Over time, this relaxed state becomes your ‘default’ mode.
Hormonal changes are also happening as your cortisol levels drop allowing your digestive, immune and reproductive systems to come back into balance.
The Energy Body
The next layer up is your energy body. ‘Prana’ is life force energy (you may also know it as chi). During Yoga, the flow of prana (energy) to certain body parts or energy centres (Chakras) is being directed. If energy is stuck or stagnant in the body, it may produce physical and emotional symptoms and can also show up as blocks or negative repeating patterns of behaviour in your life.
Many people have emotional releases during Yoga and this is energetic blocks (emotion = energy in motion) being released. This is a good thing! Old stuff is clearing away!
The Mind Body
Your mind (sometimes called the monkey mind!) is also a layer that is being worked on. During the meditative parts, there is an increase in alpha brain waves. Alpha waves are associated with quiet thoughts and peacefulness. Studies have also shown that, following Yoga, performance in tasks involving selective attention, hand eye co-ordination and quick reflex action improves!
The whole goal of Yoga really is to calm the mind.
The Wisdom Body
When your monkey mind is calm, your Wisdom Body or higher ‘Mind’ can awaken. This is your intuitive and discerning mind. The logical and wise part of your brain that seems to be tapped into something bigger. It’s the sparks of inspiration, creativity and ideas that seem to come from nowhere. This is the mind you want to be operating from most of the time!
When you quieten down the chattering mind, you begin to hear a different type of voice. A kinder, more positive voice. Over time you tap into your intuition more and learn to follow and trust it’s guidance.
The Bliss Body
Finally, you slip into silent witness mode in the final relaxation. Your true nature. That part of you that is peaceful, calm and content always. It really is a lovely place to be! That’s why they call it ‘bliss’.
I bet you didn’t know all that was going on! Can you relate to some or all of it? Let me know in the comments below!