By Julia Jonson
Yoga teaches that wholeness and happiness are our birthrights. Yet, in our hyperconnected, hyper-busy, mobile-device culture, it feels like inner peace is a pipe dream.
Sure, online activities carry countless benefits such as instant access to a dizzying array of information, a swift sense of direction (would we be lost without Google Maps?), warp-speed Amazon delivery, food orders at our fingertips, and flashy verbs like Ubering. Yet, offline endeavors, the ones that don’t feed our desire for instant gratification, still nourish us the most—watching the sunset, reading a book, enjoying nature, or lunching with a loved one. The list goes on. To live a more meaningful life, it’s essential to put down the phone and make turning within and slowing down top priorities if we truly seek to achieve serenity.
Through the practices of hitting our mats, breathing, meditating, holding mudras, acquiring knowledge, and more, we are rewiring our brains to be at ease, at peace–in other words, to be happy. Part of the promise of a regular yoga practice is renewing a lost sense of childlike wonder, cultivating a grateful heart, becoming open, curious, present, and ultimately healthy and whole.
But it’s impossible to feed our minds and bodies with our mobile devices constantly in hand. As inspirational video guru Jay Shetty puts it, “If we don’t make time for our wellness, we’ll have to make time for illness.”
The physical poses (the asanas) are the beginning of our yoga journey. Moving mindfully brings our focus inward. Breathing and stretching from the center of the body outward, toward the extremities, moves life force (prana) through the entire body. Yoga practices calm the nervous system, allowing life and energy to flow easily again through our human form on a cellular level. It’s impossible to have a balanced brain and heart without a balanced body, so the poses are key when first embarking on our inner voyage.
If we want to be clear, really clear, then we must free ourselves from our smart-phone bondage and practice slowing down and turning within more often. Clarity and balance can only be found when we get quiet and go underneath the surface of our skin one layer at a time. Penetrating these layers or sheaths, what the yogis call the koshas, is said to lead us to our true Self.
And this is where the study of yoga philosophy can lead to a greater understanding of the inherent joy that is our true nature. Kosha is a Sanskrit word meaning sheath or covering. Koshas are elements or layers of our being which must be explored, welcomed, and ultimately transcended in order to experience the true Self. The five layers or koshas are body, energy, mind, intellect, and bliss.
The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit scripture, says that the practice of yoga is “skill in action.” At this time, one of our calls to action is to reduce the time we spend in cyberland and to increase the time we invest in activities that foster meaning and meaningful connection. When we spend too much of our time on Facebook we are missing out on the beauty of our surroundings, up-close connections with people, and the possibility of living to our true potential of wholeness.
If you are interested in learning more about the koshas and yoga philosophy, consider attending Gabriel Halpern’s 3-part intensive Strength in Numbers: The Power of 3, 4 & 5. On July 8, 15, and 22, Gabriel will explore number patterns in yoga philosophy teachings, delving into the koshas (there are 5 of them), the pranas, the kleshas, the gunas and more. You can register online at www.totalbodyyoga.com.