Yoga: Union With the Divine

warrior1Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union.” The practice of yoga originated from India over 10,000 years ago to help the practitioner align and gain back control over their body, mind and spirit to achieve enlightenment, a state of consciousness in which one can see beyond the physical world for a more complete picture of Reality. Through this complete view of the physical and non-physical, we realize who we really are and experience the bliss of union or Oneness with all of Creation. As a result, we feel a permanent sense of blissful peace in which all fear, anxiety, and worries disappear. When we gain control over our body, mind, and spirit – our own Holy and Sacred Trinity – we become masters of our destiny as God had always intended for us.

The Power of Flexibility

Yoga is probably best known for its ability to make your body more flexible. What you may not realize, however, is how important flexibility or range of motion is. To fully appreciate this, let’s examine one of the signature signs of death: rigor mortis. Death is the absence of motion and rigor mortis is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate. In fact, this chemical change in the muscles can happen while we are alive as many people who age gradually experience more stiffness in their body losing more range of motion, which leads to a slow rigor mortis or process of decline and eventually death. This is why newborns or babies are so flexible because they are full of Life with no limiting belief systems yet to translate into stiff bodies. Our bodies become more stiff as we get older because our views, beliefs, and habits become more fixed so we not only become inflexible in our body, but also in our mental and emotional attitudes about life. When we lose control over our body, we lose control over our mind making it very hard to change our bad habits, make positive changes in our life, or open our self to new possibilities. In essence, we lose control over our destiny and eventually our Life.

The Power of Circulation

When we lose flexibility in a certain part of our body, we have reduced blood and lymph (fluid of the lymphatic system, a vital part of our immune system) flow to that area. Blood carries vital nutrients including oxygen to feed every cell in our body and lymph carries metabolic wastes away from cells to be disposed of from our elimination channels. Without adequate blood and lymph flow to a particular area of our body, the cells, organs, or tissues in that part of the body will start to degenerate and eventually malfunction or die. Blood circulation is dependant on the strength of our heart to pump blood throughout our body. If we do not regularly move our body enough to work out our heart muscle, our heart will become weak as we age, leading to a stiff and slowing decaying body. Movement is even more critical for the lymphatic system because it does not have a central pump to circulate it throughout the body. The flow inside the lymphatic vessels is unidirectional with one-way valves to keep the lymph from traveling backwards. The only way to help the fluid move forward is through movement of the body.

The Power of Concentration

Yoga is also known for increasing your ability to concentrate and focus, especially for those who have a hard time focusing and concentrating during meditation. Yoga postures (asanas in Sanskrit) force you to concentrate in order to do a pose and maintain a pose. When you increase your ability to concentrate and focus, you increase your will power so that you can have the power and energy to do what you say you are going to do (which increases trust and integrity in yourself and others), manifest what you intend (e.g., change and maintain a good diet and exercise practice), and achieve all your dreams and goals. At the same time, these asanas are helping your body release all negative energy stuck in those parts of the body that is being worked on, allowing life-giving blood and lymph to flow freely and abundantly to those areas, healing them, cleansing, detoxifying, and energizing your organs, muscles, tissues, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints, and skin.

Human vs. Divine Self

Yoga seeks to unite our human/small ego self with our Divine/Larger Self/God. To understand what we mean by this, let’s examine something we are very familiar with: our human/smaller ego self and compare it to the Divine/Larger/Higher Self/God.

Human Self/Smaller Self/Ego Divine/Larger/Higher Self/God
  1. Six sense experience (5 body + mind)
  2. Limited view of reality
  3. Division, separation, competition
  4. Based in fear, lack, imperfection
  1. 7th sense experience (intuition /spirit)
  2. Expanded view of reality to include the unseen
  3. Union, connectedness, harmony
  4. Based in trust, abundance, perfection

The Seven Senses

For most of us, our consciousness, awareness, or identity tends to be narrowly focused on our human self. We have what we call a six sense experience which includes the five senses of the body: sight through the eyes, hearing through the ears, smell through the nose, taste through the tongue, and touch through the skin. We also have a sixth sense which we call our mind through which we can experience things without having to have any bodily input through the five senses. With our mind, we can remember things from the past and imagine things in the future. When our consciousness or awareness expands to the level of our Divine/Larger/Higher Self/God, we then have what is called a seventh sense experience also known as intuition or spirit where we can see beyond the limited three dimensional world and see an expanded view of reality in higher dimensions beyond time and space. In other words, yoga is the union of your human self (your body and mind) with your divine self (your spirit) – your own sacred Holy Trinity.

We Are All Connected Through the Larger Self/God

When we are only in our ego self we experience division, separation, loneliness, and feel the need to compete with one another. This usually leads one to believe that a specific culture, religion, sex, sexual orientation, social-economic class, race, or person is superior to others. In our Larger Self/God, we experience union, connectedness, and harmony with others because our Larger Self/God is actually the same as everyone else’s Larger Self/God. As a result, we see all cultures, religions, sex, sexual orientation, social-economic class, race, or individuals as equal.

From Victim to Co-Creator

Because of the limited viewpoint of our smaller self, we experience mistakes, wrong decisions, accidents, unskillful thoughts, emotions, and actions. As a result, we feel we are a victim of life, that life just happens to us and we have no control over it. In response to this feeling we either give our power away to others in resignation, or we take power away from others in an attempt to regain our control, fighting with life or going against the flow of life. In contrast, when we see the world through the 360 degree viewpoint of our Larger Self/God, we experience no mistakes, always make the right decisions, think clearly, feel clearly, do the right things, and say the right things at the right moment. As a result, from our Larger Self/God perspective, we are the creator of our own life and we co-create life with others, dancing with life, going with the flow of life.

“Knowledge is Power” vs. “Ignorance is Power”

How you ever heard the phrase “knowledge is power”? What about “ignorance is power”? Which is true? The answer is both are true in the sense that having knowledge can empower you to make better decisions and therefore knowledge is a form of self-empowerment. The more you know, the more you can do. Ignorance is also a form of power, but not for the one who is ignorant, but for the one who is keeping you ignorant because the more you do not know, the more power they can have over you. This is the reason for censorship of information and and even misinformation and subliminal programming in mainstream media, governments, schools and religions in an attempt to manipulate or scare you into doing something or doing nothing.

Yoga is a practice and path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is a state of self-realization, a state of full knowledge of who you are and what is the true nature of reality. Real power comes from self-knowledge or self-realization. When you are self-realized, you will think clearly and see clearly, seeing beyond all illusion, beyond all the fear, lack, and limitation. Without any fear, nothing can stop you from making your dreams into a reality. You will have all the knowledge you need through your intuition or direct connection with spirit or your Higher Self/God. Through the practice of yoga, we will experience for our self the answer to all these questions: Are we just our bodies? How do we know we are more than our bodies? What is the mind and how do we know we have a mind? What is spirit and how do we know we have a spirit? What is the difference between mind and spirit? Is there just this physical reality or is there something beyond it we cannot see? If there is something beyond this physical reality, what is it?

Chakras: The 7 Major Energy Centers

Part of the process of enlightenment (with the side benefit of healing of all physical, mental/emotional ailments) involves the balancing and activation of seven major energy centers in your body:

  1. Root (Muladhara)
  2. Sacral (Swadhisthana)
  3. Solar Plexus (Manipura)
  4. Heart (Anahata)
  5. Throat (Visuddha)
  6. Third Eye (Ajana)
  7. Crown (Sahasrara)

Every human being or other living being for that matter has an electromagnetic field around them that is not visible to the naked eye but can be detected by electromagnetic field meters (and by our 7th sense). Like the energy that powers a light bulb, it’s the energy that powers our human body. Energy flows through the energy field through about 72,000 channels, or nadis in Sanskrit, which are themselves composed of energy. Where many nadis cross, energy centers (or chakras) are formed. As major “hubs” of information and energy distribution, the chakras direct the energy which vitalizes the nerves and glands and ultimately all of the structures of the body. Problems such as disease or mental or emotional imbalance arises when our chakras are clogged or out of balance. Chakra means “wheel” or “turning” in Sanskrit. We actually have a total of 114 chakras in our energy field. In yoga, we focus on the seven major chakras as they correspond with the seven different levels of experience and awakening.

Each chakra has a specific location in the body and is associated with an element. According to yoga and other traditions, there are five elements that can be found in the physical world: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Earth is symbolic of the solid state of matter in the physical universe. Water represents matter in its liquid form. Fire represents matter in its plasma state. Air represents matter in its gaseous state and ether represents space as a necessary part of the physical universe.

Each center is also associated with a color on the visible light spectrum ranging from red (lowest frequency) to violet (highest frequency), a specific gland, and other parts of our body. If these chakras are not spinning like they should or are blocked for some reason (imbalanced), the associated glands and body parts will be affected and physical and psychological illness may result.

1st Center – Root (Muladhara) Chakra

  • Location: Base of spine (coccyx/tailbone/perineum)
  • Element: Earth
  • Color: Red
  • Gland: Adrenals (produces cortisol which helps you respond to stress)
  • Body Parts: Spine, tailbone, legs, feet, blood, bones, teeth, large intestines, prostate, bladder
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Sees world as only physical, black and white, us against them, anal retentive
  • Imbalanced (physical): Anemia, fatigue, bladder infection, colds, constipation, hemorrhoids, leukemia, numbness, obesity, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Basic sense of self/individuality, security, groundedness, stability, good survival instincts, courage, ability to let go of the extraneous, to make room for the new, to not cling to things

Without the groundedness of the root chakra, we will not feel the need to take care of our physical bodies, or we may be too grounded and only identify ourselves with our physical body and become materialistic and superficial. The root chakra corresponds with infancy though some may be stuck in this stage beyond infancy into adulthood.

2nd Center – Sacral (Swadhisthana) Chakra

  • Location: Lower abdomen (below belly button/navel)
  • Element: Water
  • Color: Orange
  • Gland: Gonads (testicles in males, ovaries in females)
  • Body Parts: Gallbladder, kidneys, urinary tract, spleen, uterus, ovaries, testes, skin
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Promiscuous or too puritanical, no imagination or creativity, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anti-social
  • Imbalanced (physical): Alcoholism, allergies, asthma, candida, drug abuse, eating disorders, impotence, frigidity, gout, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Healthy monogamous relationships, creative, sensual, confident, social, freedom-loving, unique, physically active and fit

The second chakra corresponds with adolescence and many of us are still stuck at this level of development as adults. For this reason, many of the yoga classes offered by Ardent Light emphasize yoga postures that help open up the first and second chakras. In private coaching sessions, a customized yoga practice is created for the individual to address specific spirit-body-mind issues.

3rd Center – Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra

  • Location: stomach/belly button/navel (actually 3/4 of an inch below your navel)
  • Element: Fire
  • Color: Yellow
  • Gland: Pancreas
  • Body Parts: Diaphragm, liver, nervous system, small intestines, stomach
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Lack of will power, focus, self-control, and self-determination, powerlessness, sadness, mental fog, pessimistic, timid
  • Imbalanced (physical): Addictions to stimulants, blood sugar disorders, constipation, diabetes, hepatitis, hypoglycemia, jaundice, nervousness, poor memory, parasites and worms, toxicity, ulcers, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Good sense of humor, optimistic, acts in integrity with values and intentions, high-level of self-awareness, curious, thinks clearly, adventurous, full of life and energy, going with the flow of life, embracing change and transformation, successfully achieves all goals with will power, focus, intention, and cooperation with life, lives with meaning and purpose

The third chakra is the most important chakra of all because it is the only point where all 72,000 nadis meet and redistribute themselves supplying the energy to all the other chakras to use to refine to their frequency.  It is where our cosmic umbilical cord to our Universal Mother is attached supplying us the Divine energy we need to sustain intent and will power to create and transform our lives. In Taoist yoga, the navel center is called the “tan tien,” in psychology, it’s the “fire-in-the-belly,” in karate, the navel center is called the “hara.” When we have a strong “hara” we can never be defeated. Navel power gives us the will power to follow through and complete things we intended to do allowing us to take control of our lives and have a say in what becomes of us.

Like digestive fire, navel power gives us the energy to digest and break down experience to extract the nutrients or wisdom so we don’t keep on making the same mistakes over and over again. Just as a forest fire gets stronger by consuming whatever is in its path, so too does the navel make us stronger and invincible by consuming all obstacles in our life. In addition to certain yoga postures, belly dancing, Pilates, and core ball exercises coupled with breathing techniques are also great ways to strengthen our navel power.

4th Center – Heart (Anahata) Chakra

  • Location: center of chest (heart)
  • Element: Air
  • Color: Green
  • Gland: Thymus
  • Body Parts: Arms, hands, bronchia, lungs, heart, muscles
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Guilt, resentment, revenge, anger, hatred, bigotry, racism, violent, stress
  • Imbalanced (physical): Asthma, breathing difficulties, pneumonia, emphysema, chest pain, high blood pressure (hypertension), lethargy, impaired immune system, abnormal cell growth, muscle tension, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Loving, kind, compassionate, understanding, accepting, forgiving, healing, emotionally intelligent, wise, full of harmony, peace, and grace, close and profound relationships, unconditional love

The fourth chakra is the bridge between the lower and upper chakras where heaven and earth meet, where the impossible becomes possible. When you communicate and act from your heart, everyone you come in contact with gets healed in some way.

5th Center – Throat (Visuddha) Chakra

  • Location: Throat
  • Element: Ether/Akasha
  • Color: Blue
  • Gland: Thyroid
  • Body Parts: Atlas vertebra (first bone in the spine holding up the brain), throat, vocal system, mouth, jaw, tongue, trachea, hypothalamus, tonsils, ears, nose, teeth, neck, shoulders, lymph, parathyroid
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Fear of speaking the truth, repressed, inhibited, lack of trust in self and others, lack of creative expression and self-knowledge, unorganized, cautious, poor communication skills
  • Imbalanced (physical): Flu, fever, blisters, infections, herpes, itching, sores, tonsillitis, toothaches, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), speech disorders, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), hyperactivity, melancholy, hormonal problems, swelling, hiccups, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), mood swings, irregular menstrual cycle, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Eloquent, creatively expressive, speaking your truth, ability to say the right thing at the right time, ability to manifest anything with the power of the word, to create form out of the formless, trust in self and others, organized, excellent communication skills

According to yoga, a well-balanced 5th chakra provides access to the element ether or the Akashic field where all information is available, like having access to a cosmic Internet.

6th Center – Third Eye (Ajana ) Chakra

  • Location: Forehead between the eyebrows
  • Color: Purple
  • Gland: Pituitary
  • Body Parts: Ears, eyes, nose, sinuses, cerebellum, forebrain, autonomic nervous system
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Fearful, forgetful, unimaginative, manic depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, paranoia, a wish to control others, egotism
  • Imbalanced (physical): Blindness, vision problems, headaches, migraines, earaches, nightmares, sleep disorders, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Psychic, intuitive, self-realized, fearless, imaginative, open-mindedness, ability to see your destiny

The sixth chakra Ajana means “command center” in Sanskrit, the command center of your awareness, the ability to command your own mind. It is not associated with any element because it is not a part of the physical world.

7th Center – Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra

  • Location: Top of the head
  • Color: White
  • Gland: Pineal
  • Body Parts: Central nervous system, upper brain, cerebral cortex, cerebrum, hair growth, veins, blood vessels, lymphatic system
  • Imbalanced (psychological): Alienation, mental illness, senility, depression, confusion, condemnation
  • Imbalanced (physical): Neuralgia, bacterial infections, warts, skin rashes, eczema, problems with associated body parts (see above)
  • Balanced: Union with the Divine, cosmic consciousness, feeling that you are everything, bliss, ecstasy, charismatic, inspiring, visionary, Higher Self awareness

The seventh chakra is also known as the 10th gate or the 1000 petal lotus. In order to sustain a balanced and open crown chakra, all the lower chakras need to be balanced. Otherwise, one may experience only momentary states of bliss and ecstasy and connection with the Divine consciousness. It is possible to have some upper chakras opened while some lower chakras are blocked and visa versa. The goal is to have all chakras balanced for a complete union of heaven and earth.

8th Chakra – The Aura

The eighth center is actually a blend of all the seven chakras combined to create an egg-shaped electromagnetic energy field around the entire body. When all seven chakras are balanced and energy is flowing freely through all of them, our aura expands and we uplift, inspire, and heal others just by our presence. Most people’s aura (including animals) extends 1-3 feet outside their body. A healthy human aura can extend up to 9 feet or more outside the body. It is said that Gautama Buddha’s aura extended so far (almost a mile) that several villages in India could tell that he was in town.

All energy emanations from the body: heat, sound, light, emotions, thoughts, and the physical health state of the body can cause fluctuations in one’s energy field. We also carry karmic residue from past actions in our aura which creates templates for the perpetuation of our past actions, affecting how others perceive and respond to us.

Ardent Light Healing Yoga

Going way beyond the physically-oriented yoga you would typically find at a gym, Ardent Light Yoga (ALHY) classes taught by JAL (a 500-Hour Certified Yoga Instructor from YogaWorks and Reiki Master) incorporate pranayama (powerful breathing techniques) and end in meditation and Reiki Healing Energy because yoga was actually intended to prepare your mind and body for meditation. Most people find it difficult to sit still during meditation finding their body restless and their mind wandering. ALHY classes are specifically designed to remove all nervous energy from the body and train the mind to be still enough for meditation which is the perfect state to receive Reiki healing energy.

See the Ardent Light Healing Yoga page for more information.