You are an onion!

Huh?! I hear you say. 🤔

Well, this is a metaphor for an idea in yoga philosophy which I find really inspirational.

Let me explain…

 

The Koshas

In yoga philosophy, living beings are seen to be made up of layers – like an onion! There are 5 layers, starting from the most superficial:

– The physical body (annamaya kosha)

– The breath/energetic body (pranamaya kosha)

– The mind/thinking body (manomaya kosha)

– The emotional/wisdom body (vijnanamaya kosha)

– The bliss body/true self (anandamaya kosha or purusha)

 

We are a lampshade!

Another lovely metaphor used in the book ‘Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses’ is that when all our layers are in harmony, we shine, like a lamp, with intricately cut-out shades all in alignment.

Conversely, if out of alignment, our inner light is a little dimmed by one of these lampshades that might be stuck in a funny position.

 

Purusha – true self

The inner most layer is our Purusha, the core of the onion, the light inside the lampshade.

A concept that has helped me in times when I’ve felt very blue is that our Purusha (true self) is separate from the layers surrounding it. So in fact…

We are not our bodies.

We are not our energy levels.

We are not our thoughts.

We are not our emotions.

 

How this helps us

This is helpful to contemplate when you’re having a difficult time with one of these layers. For instance, if you’re going through depression or having unwanted thoughts, it can help to contemplate for a quiet moment how your inner light/your true self, is not defined by these emotions or thoughts.

Similarly, if your physical body is going through a difficult time, perhaps Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or another illness, then meditating on the idea that this physical layer does not define your inner light/your true self can also be helpful.

Personally, I love this concept!

I often work on visualising a bright inner light in my chest while I’m lying in Shavasana (this is the final relaxation pose at the end of a yoga practice, in case you’re new here).

 

We are all connected

There is another aspect about the inner light/purusha/true self which I find really comforting when I am feeling disconnected and lonely.

It is said that our inner light (you could call it spirit) is part of the Devine/the universal energy/give it whatever name you want!

The most beautiful aspect for me is that the inner light in all of us is connected, between us all, and with all living beings.

 

The danger of loneliness

Before I taught yoga and fitness full-time, I worked as an academic researcher and my topic for a long time was loneliness.

What I learned from my own research and reading countless scientific studies on the topic, is that the feeling of isolation (loneliness) is a serious health hazard. One large study, which pooled data from many other studies, concluded that loneliness was as hazardous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010).

Eeeek! 😬

 

An uplifting visualisation 

This is another reason why I love the philosophy of Koshas and the Purusha so much.

Even when you are physically alone, you could gain a sense of connection though the following meditation/visualisation (I like to do this one in Shavasana too):

Visualise your purusha/inner self/true self as a bright light, and then visualise strands of light connecting your inner light with the inner light of the others in hour house… yoga class… street… town… country… then world!

It is really up lifting. 😊

 

So, let’s visualise this!

I invite you to pick an on-demand video class, and to PAUSE it during the Shavasana! (Probably best to pick a non-music version).

Then lie in stillness, visualising your bright inner light, and perhaps also visualising how you are connected through your purusha with everyone else in your house, street, town, country… world!

This will truly make you feel warm and fuzzy. 🥴❤️

Let’s open the diary, and plan in your next practice… 🙏

Thank you for reading my blog!

If you feel moved to try some yoga yourself (even if you are a complete beginner), then you can have a go at trying some on-demand classes completely for FREE!

Love,

Jolanthe Xx

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Love, Jolanthe x