Clearly I don't get on here too often. My instagram accounts generally serve as my micro-blog space but I needed a little more room to tell you what I'm currently working on and sharing in my public and on-line yoga classes over at Shine Yoga in Cincinnati.
In April, I began a long-term series to offer a little extra fun and inspiration into my yoga class themes. While my themes always have roots in traditional yoga philosophy, I like to center and frame them with contemporary concepts. I've taught a VERY wide-range of themes over the years. Ultimately I want the themes to help teach the deeper meaning, support, and guidance that traditional yoga offers — and — I want the themes to feel relevant, empowering, and inspiring in our modern practices. My current series is finding correlations from the archetypes of the Tarot to inspire themes that also root into traditional yoga teachings. I have been feeling incredibly inspired and guided myself. The work feels very nourishing — and it's fun!
The themes and subsequent writing feels revelatory as I move through the deck from the ground order up. Not working too far ahead, as I came up to the fives, there was a huge amount of information around the fives and also "The Hierophant" or spiritual teacher that I took a little time out to get somewhat organized for what I imagine will take at least 5 or 6 weeks to work through.
Because I don't like the classes to be too "heady" or too highly intellectualized, I decided to write and out and share here the foundation for the series that we'll be working on beginning this first week of June. You can use this as a reference space as you like. I am going to write a preview here of our first week. I'm not sure if i will do that in subsequent weeks. But... I almost always have a little class teaser on my instagram page. So if you're not already following me there - check it out.
Ok - so here's what we'll be working on for June....
Fives - Hierophant > choosing to focus on “Gurave” - As divinely embodied beings our guide is within us. We are meant to live fully in touch with all the aspects of our beings. To help us understand the full range of the aspects of embodied being-ness the Yoga philosophers created a map of sorts to explain how the big field of divine consciousness manifests into individual beings. The Tattvas remind us of our true and full potential which is not bound only to our physical capacities.
To someone unfamiliar with yoga philosophy the Tattvas may seem overwhelming but in their most simple form, the Tattvas are simply a list of the aspects of our being that can remind us of the magnificence of our physical attributes and remind us that each one of us has qualities of being that transcend our most physical nature.
As we’ve explored to some degree thus far, the idea is that all life exists as a field of divine consciousness in which all beings rise up from, exist as a unique life from for some time, dissolve back into the field, rest for awhile, and then a sense of revelation where the consciousness has a sense of it’s process and is able to in a sense re-assemble and regenerate in a way that allows it to return to the life cycle. These five aspects of the life cycle is called Pancakrtya.
“The five great acts of Lord Shiva are srishti, the creative act; sthiti, the protective act; samhara, the destructive act; tirodhana, the act of enfolding or concealing His nature; and anugraha, the act of unfolding or revealing His nature. Each of these acts is also accomplished by the individual soul. In the case of the individual, however, they are not called acts, but “actions” because this kind of act is dependent on the will of God, not on the will of the individual being.”
Source: SWAMI LAKSHMANJOO link takes you to article
Keeping this creation cycle in mind but not overly focusing on it, we’ll focus on the aspect of our being in the state in which it is currently and for most of us here we are in the “protective” or “sustaining” our physical nature aspect. Yoga acknowledges five major elements that must be present to support a functioning life form on the planet earth. Each of these elements also correlate to certain aspects and qualities in all living beings. The are the PanchaMahaBhutas or Five Elements on Life on the Earth Plane. The elements, all which also have other names for the same elements, include: are prithivi (earth), Agni (fire), ap / jala (water), vayu (air), akasha (ether).
These five elements combine in different ways and combinations to create not only unique life forms, but also, unique aspects of being in each life form. Human beings are said to have five Koshas — translated as “sheaths.” The five Koshas are:
Animayakosha - correlating to earth (pentacles) - your most physical and primal self - your physical body and aspects of body including the organs in which information is transmitted = physical brain, brain stem and limbic system, nerves, veins, etc.
Pranamayakosha - correlating to fire (wands) - your energy body - the information that travels in, through, and back out from your body. The energy that allows your body to function. The energy that created and supports your life. The energy that has given you breath, a heartbeat, and allows all of your systems to function and integrate within yourself and in your environment.
Manaomaykosha - correlating to water (cups/hearts) Your mental and emotional “body.” This include aspects of what you think and feel. It is the energy of your daily thoughts and feelings. It includes mental function and emotional capacity and recognizes the strong relationship between what we think, feel, and how we are inspired to act and relate to others.
Vijnamayakosha - correlating to air (swords) this translates as wisdom body and may feel like a stretch in some western minds. The understanding from a yogic point of view is that we each are more than we can measure with our modern scientific tools. Yoga suggests that because we all come from the same divine and conscious energy field, we all have access to the wisdom that exists in that field. Much in the way that applications connected to our internet can access and process information from many sources. Vijna - or wisdom - that goes beyond daily mental function and includes intellectual processing, intuition, and insight, all of which often function through the field of “imagination.” Imagination is an important aspect of the creation and life cycle process.
Anandamayakosha - correlates to ether (also to pentacles in the Tarot of Yoga) - ananda means bliss. In my mind, the bliss body correlates with our western concepts of spirit and soul. Yoga teaches that when we live as though we are part of the greater whole without excessive attachment to our physical and impermanent nature we may feel more spiritually free, in the flow of life, and rooted in a state of blissful awareness and being-ness.
Week one of the series within the series:
Animayakosha / Earth / Chakra 1 - Embodiment - Grounded-ness
This week as we kick off this ‘series in a series,” in which any student can come into at any time along the line (each class in the series is an independent practice), we’re working well into the qualities of physical embodiment. Acknowledging and honoring the vessel that our bodies are that allow us to have experiences and interactions on the physical plane. We’ll pay special attention to our physical foundation and physical roots as we work to bring these aspects into a sense of aliveness, empowerment, potential and expanded capacity for living a full and rich life. We’ll work with the earthly aspects of our root chakra and it’s function which is to give us a sense of steady ground in which to place our individual roots in order to source our own shoots and blooms. In our physical body, the root chakra is associated with our hips, legs, and feet. With a focus on foundation, we’ll also pay attention to hands as they become the base of our postures. The tone of these classes will help us to pracctice and build: appreciation of our physical and primal nature, the earth that supports our capacity for life, the divine act of embodiment, physical strength, agility, and a reminder that a major aspect of the purpose of life — from a yogic point of view — is simply to be — to be in life — to be in wonder — to do our best — and also — to enjoy the ride as much as can.
I'd love to have you in class. Find my schedule at www.shineyoga.com