Yoga is for everyone!
In the previous post we talked about the body, Ana Maya as physical health in many of its manifestations - positive body image, healthy and attractive physique coupled with acceptance of one's flaws and a desire for self-improvement. In this blog we will cover the emotional body - Prana Maya, which is yet another important resource that makes our life more fulfilling. And one word comes to mind particularly when I think of this layer of the human being - LOVE - because love in all of its manifestations is the best source of Prana, and by learning how to love we can capture the Prana in the Universe and take it inside ourselves. These Pancha Mayas, the layers of the human being, are not separate and distinct, they are closely interwoven and mutually-dependent, and we mentioned love in the previous blog, but here we will talk of hardly anything but.
Prana is, arguably, a very powerful resource, and Love, in my view, is pretty much the energetic equivalent of Prana, so I will use these two words practically interchangeably. This resource is particularly important in our day and age, and especially for women. A powerful resource means that it can give one a lot of energy and positive emotions, and emotions are like fuel for personal transformation. When one is experiencing a high degree of emotion, transformation, both positive and negative, happens very easily. Without emotion there is hardly any potential for change, and love creates a particularly intense field of energy that can be channeled into self-transformation (and in the previous blog we talked about how part of a positive body image is this desire for personal growth, improvement, development).
Besides Prana we have other resources (see my blog on Pancha Maya Koshas), such as our physical health, mental health, social/cultural heritage and connectedness, and if they are weak or underdeveloped, when there is an imbalance of these other resources, the resource of love can get out of control and can consume the person totally or even create dependency/addiction - that's on one hand, or it can lead to inability to give and receive love altogether on the other hand. In other words, an imbalance.
In order to keep things straight in our minds, let's make a distinction between love and sex, because those are two different things and you can have one without the other, and I would put sex into the Ana Maya, because there it is closer to the drive of sexual urge, more like a force of nature). Where sex is selfish, love is altruistic and has a different vibration as energy, more subtle, and possibly more powerful. Physical closeness with our beloved certainly feeds the emotion of love, but great love can survive, painfully maybe, a separation, and "absence can make the heart grow fonder".
I mentioned altruism for a very specific purpose - it takes a lot of Prana to be generous with it, to have enough for oneself and to share it with others. People with a lot of Prana glow with its magnetic power. They are transfixing and disarming, and this power can easily get out of control - we have seen it happen with many various sex scandals involving Yoga Gurus. It awakens and animates the Ana Maya, the physical body, and the sexual urge that resides there. So controlling this vital resource is important, because it is through love that we can evolve into the altruism of generous Prana-giving, rather than devolve into inappropriate sexual behavior.
Love makes empathy possible. An extremely selfish person would be unable to tap into the love resource and benefit from the personal transformation that love makes possible. Empathy can allow a person to take a giant leap to a whole new level of Prana. It is the bridge that takes us to the higher planes of spirituality, the other Koshas/levels of us that we will be talking about in future blogs. Love can spiritualize us and be a source of inspiration, where we can learn to feel and understand others, to see the beauty and the kindness in the world around us, to be inspired by that to love more, and then it becomes a self-sustaining inner resource that can be truly inexhaustible.
If the other Koshas are poorly developed, the body is unhealthy (Ana Maya), the mind is troubled or dull (Mano Maya), if we are in a grip of a belief system that is disjointed, false, immoral (Vijnana Maya), then the resource of Prana/love can be difficult to tap into. Even if a person is able to love another, but unable to overcome the selfishness, the ego-centrism, then the love would never feel secure, there will always be an undercurrent of anxiety and worry. Instead of empathy the person would find himself/herself dissolving into the object of their affections and lose their sense of Self, absorb the beloved into their ego, become possessive, and in the end, that love would be damaged, unhealthy, unbalanced.
Developing other resources, such as a healthy body, mind, and spirituality, will help to nurture the resource of love. Learning empathy and altruism will take it to a whole new level. People with little Prana are afraid to be generous, because they fear they just don't have enough to go around. They are in the "energy-saving" mode much the same as the people from my Ana Maya blog, those with malnourished and diseased body that don''t have the energy for action and optimism. But just as all it takes to start moving to feel better physically, all it takes is an act of giving love and affection to start getting it from others, as dividends.
A small leap of faith is needed, taking a chance, giving in to spontaneity. By the way, spontaneity, its presence or absence in one's life, is a great way to tell how strong Prana is - for spontaneity there needs to be a high level of Prana, so it can flow freely and even overflow occasionally. If Prana is blocked, it will be stuck in eddies, behind rocks, deep in wells, trapped in various old scars and footprints.
Easier said that done, I am sure, but there you have it. As you will learn later, it doesn't matter which resource you start developing first, since all are inter-linked and interrelated, and once you start somewhere, you will feel improvement in all the others.
Through self-knowledge and reflection we can identify our stronger areas, the parts of us where we have enough resource to start using it, and next on out list is the Mano Maya, the mental resource, which in most people is the healthiest and therefore easiest to tap into.