Friday, May 7, 2010

Know your body

We have all been taught about the different parts and functional systems of our body. We may not recall their functionality in entirety but would definitely be able to relate that the intestine is a part of the digestive system, the kidneys as a part of the excretory system, the lungs as a part of the respiratory system and so on. Is that all to our body? I believed so, till a few years back.

If I make a statement, “you have more than one body”, would you doubt my sanity? Of course, we all have only one physical body, one physical self that we can see and sense, does that limit us to believe we are encompassed of only biological parts that we studied way back in school?

We are a system of energy, implying that there is more to our existence beyond our physical body. Getting to the other aspects of our self, the science of yoga, delves the concept of tri-shashira, meaning three bodies, one of which is our physical body with mass. Sukshma shariram, the subtle body, it is believed to house the individual mind. The last is the karana shariram, the causal body that veils the soul. I found it marveling to discover the possibility of a vital force within, and the fact that I existed without realizing my own true self was quite stupendous. Many literatures, also refer to seven types of subtle bodies, Etheric, Emotional, Mental, Astral, Etheric template, celestial and causal body. I kind of see them as more specific layers of the three broader classification of the body.

Chakras are the energy centers or vortexes which permeate energies from physical points to the subtle bodies. There are seven major chakras in our subtle body, starting from the base of spine, the root chakra, navel chakra, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and the crown chakra. The energies flowing through each of the chakras correspond to the well being of the respective regions to which they are positioned.

The energy (vital force or prana) flows through our gross body, through Nadis, astral tubes , 3 main nadis are ida, pingla and sushmana nadi. There are more than 72000 nadis that run through our body. Pranayama, the breathing techniques help cleanse the nadis.

The three bodies are encased in five sheaths. The five koshas/sheaths are Annamaya Kosha(Food), Pranamaya Kosha(Energy), Manomaya Kosha(Emotional), Vijnyanamaya(Intellect) and Anandamaya(Bliss) kosha. The pranic or energy sheath encompasses the chakras and the nadis.

Doesn’t that seem more complex than the nervous system? A Vital living force that flows intricately, connecting our physical self, with the subtle and the higher self’s, is truly a potential force within. Kundalini is the coiled dormant potential that lies at the base of the spine, the root chakra. The Awakening of this potential is the awakening of the consciousness/awareness to connect with the cosmic consciousness.

The benefits of the each of these energy systems are tremendous. Holistically, tapping/channeling this energy is to elevate our inner consciousness. Cleansing the energy flow paths, leads to enhanced utilization integrating the body and mind. The balance needed to maintain physical well being, to attain a clear mind and to unify with The One. The potential is within us, dormant!

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