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feeling bliss — ananda

Maybe it’s the new dedication to my practice. maybe it’s living healthier. Maybe it was building on yesterday’s awesome class (Sunday “church” with Jami at Flow). But today I felt absolutely blissful during this morning’s asana. muscle stretching felt juicy, even joyful. My mind was totally calm. each pose was heaven.

There are days when each movement is painful. But when asana feels like bliss, it’s like an unknown obstacle was removed, enabling me to go to a whole different level. When the body is aching, when the mind is restless, just getting through the asana can be an ordeal. Thankfully, today was different. The only word that made sense was bliss. 

Ananda is bliss. 

Anandamaya kosha is the fifth of the five sheaths. (the other being physical, energy, mental, and wisdom.)  Of course, as usual, I’m trying to jump straight to the fifth, instead of examining the others along the way. 

From the Moksha Gita, by Swami Sivananda:

“Anandamaya kosha is the most interior of the koshas, the first of the koshas surrounding the Atman, the eternal center of consciousness. Ananda means bliss. However, it is not bliss as a mere emotion experienced at the level of the sheath of mind. Ananda is a whole different order of reality from that of the mind. It is peace, joy, and love that is underneath, beyond the mind, independent of any reason or stimulus to cause a happy mental reaction. It is simply being, resting in bliss called ananda.

Yet, even this bliss, however wonderful it is, is still a covering, a sheath, a lampshade covering the pure light of consciousness. It is the subtle most of the five koshas. In the silence of deep meditation, this too is let go of, so as to experience the center.” 

The anandamaya kosha is the most subtle of all five koshas. Yet, the body is important. The physical body is a gateway. Honoring the body and nurturing it helps us get from the gross to the subtle.

There’s a chapter in the Tree of Yoga called “the depth of asana.” Iyengar talks about how Mahatma Gandhi didn’t practice all aspects of yoga; just two of them — non-violence and truth. Yet he mastered himself and led India to independence, just through those two. “If a part of yama could make Mahatma Gandhi so great, so pure, so honest and so divine, should it not be possible to take another limb of yoga — asana — and through it reach the highest level of spiritual development?”

He connects multiple aspects of asana practice, from the effort involved in performing an asana (conative); the perception of the pose — feeling what is happening in the flesh (cognitive); to the communion, where the mind gets involved (mental); observing and analyzing (reflective).  “All meet together to form a total awareness from the self to the skin and from the skin to the self. This is spiritual practice in yoga.”

It’s nice to feel the connection of exterior and the interior. Even if just for a few seconds.

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