Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

YOGA, PRANA, LOVE: Ceremony to love

Part 5 of a six-part series


By RAQUEL TAVARES  — Vinyasa is rhythm where the body is the drum and the breath is the hand that beats it. It is the movement that occurs in the body when you combine it with breathing.

When you have a sequence of vinyasa combined with asana you have a ceremony, an orchestra of movement that is dedicated to the gods, the body, the spirit, the atman. Surynamaskar, or Sun Salutation, is an offering to the sun. The ceremonious practice of Pranayama, a Sanskrit word meaning lengthening of the prana or breath, is also an offering and can be considered “vinyasa.”

Lovemaking is a ceremony, a Vinyasa, a breath with movement. In the most ideal form, sex is a ceremony that is dedicated to love, understanding and compassion. Through asana we discover the love of yoga; through lovemaking we discover the love of one another; in both we discover the interconnected nature of our beings, together and apart.

Svadhyaya: to find the self through love

Like love, yoga is not the path you choose. It chooses you. Something occurs and you find a need to practice yoga. Something that attracts you to it—something mysterious, ethereal, unknown. Your first class might be challenging. It makes you work harder than you could have imagined because it is nothing like you expected. And through the process of yoga, as through the process of love, you experience changes.

Gradually you begin to see yourself through a lens that in yoga is called svadhyaya, and in life is called love, and your self-perception changes. You become self-less and gain a sense of contentment.

Yoga and Love

Most devoted practitioners of Yoga begin with asana (posture). Slowly, with practice, you begin to get into the depths of your body. Energetically speaking, this is the level of the body called Annamaya kosha — or the physical aspect of the body as it relates to our external world. In this state you are still with the senses. After you achieve asana — which, in theory, is a lifelong practice — you begin to study pranayama, the chakra system, the energetic aspect of yoga practice. You learn to withdraw from the senses. You become devoted in one aspect or another. You experience an energetic and emotional piercing deeper, toward your soul level. You don’t expect it, but yoga begins to affect all aspects of life.

Similarly, with love of a friend, mother, child, lover, you begin at the surface level. This is what draws you to love. The fact that you can hold, look at, adore your relationships brings you to begin to understand the union that occurs when you love. And just as with the practice of yoga, love breaks through the surface. It breaks through your annamaya kosha and touches the energetic body. Just as a river or stone hits a glassy lake and ripples its silky surface, so does love ripple through the body, from the body of the senses to the energetic body and eventually reaching your core, your soul, your Anandamaya kosha.

Here — this union — is where you find what we all look for, or stumble upon when we are devoted to the practice of Yoga.

NEXT: A state of love, from the inside out

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