In many of my articles and blog posts I refer to the Field of Yoga. Here we will explore what I am referring to.
The Field of Yoga (which I will oftentimes simply refer to with the capitalised word “Yoga,” as opposed to “yoga”) is a state of consciousness in which one has an awareness of the formless aspect of Life. Within the context of yoga practice this awareness will typically start out as awareness of and within the physical form of the body (the Annamaya kosha). As this awareness increases the yogin steps through the veil and her awareness enters into the formless aspect. Oftentimes when sharing yoga asana and yoga philosophy I will refer to spaciousness. Students might hear me say “Breath into the spaciousness within your legs,” or “Awaken into the spaciousness within your lungs as you inhale,” etcetera. This spaciousness is one way of referring to the formless side of Life. The form aspect of our human body (the Annamaya kosha) is a doorway into the formless aspect of the human body.
Once we enter into the formless aspect of the human body we will eventually gain access to the formless aspect of Life itself. I say eventually because for most people certain other thresholds must to be crossed. Crossing from the form-side of the body (the Annamaya kosha) into the formless-side is one threshold. For many people crossing this threshold is a great challenge, and for many reasons. Perhaps the simplest reason is that modern Man has become so emeshed in materialism, the form or material aspect of Life. He has all but forgotten the subtle dimensions of Life. His creator has given him a vast masion with many levels and rooms, yet he sits oftentimes defeated and depressed at the front door, ignorant of what is inside and simply waiting for him to enter therein and claim.
Crossing the next (2nd) threshold requires disolving the blockages within our energy body, the ways in which prana has become stagnant, misqualified, and dis-eased. As we awaken into our pranic body it will begin to move more fully and holistically. It goes from being dark and stagnant to luminous and fluid. Failure to utilise the breath appropriately during the practice of yoga asana will oftentimes leave the yogin stuck at this stage for much longer than would otherwise be necessary. She will be unable to approach and cross the next threshold into the astral and mental bodies.
The next threshold is when the yogin enters into what esoteric science refers to as the astral and mental bodies. Some schools of thought lump these together, others differentiate between them. In yoga they are collective referred to as the Manamaya kosha. Mana means mind. At this stage the yogin is faced with his limiting and/or false emotional and mental contructs or thoguht-forms. Many spiritual aspirants get caught up in this stage of their unfolding. The mind can seem so appealing and so convincing, and ithas a tendency to get entangles in fears and toe create and feed illusions. In today’s modern societies we give great emphasis to our thoughts and emotions, and many are stuck here for now. This is not a criticism, for each stage on the journey is necessary and important.
After disolving our attachment to our emotional and mental stories (in which we take up the lead role or character, around which everyone and everything else revolves [aka self-centredness]) the mind also takes on greater luminousity. The rigidity of the mind softens, and the aspirant is able to sink deeper within. At this point one enters into the indwelling “I,” the witness, the (seemingly) all knowing observer. Some schools of esoteric science refer to this as the Soul, others as the Spirit. Anthroposphical science uses the term Spirit, and this is synomenous with “I” or “ego.” Yoga science refers to this as the Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnana means “knowing” or “wisdom.” Tibetian tantra often refers to this as the wisdom body.
As you know, the ego has a poor reputation! But actually the I AMness within us is of vital importance. It’s just that we clothe the I (the ego, which is Latin of “I”) with the stories and memories of the other denser koshas or bodies, and then forget the true nature of the I. The sense of I AM within us gets entangled in the illusions of our unenlightened human state of being.
Once we have purified our sense of I, which in parts requires reorientating it away from over identification with the forms (thought forms, emotional stories, and physical forms, etc.) of the denser bodies, layers, or sheaths. Its new orientation is toward the Supreme Source, Brahma, the Tao, or what some refer to as God. Here it takes on the knowing and wisdom of its true identity. In reality, the “I” within you is the “I” of the Supreme, of Brahma.
Beyond wisdom one discovers bliss. The essence of your body is blessful in nature. Here we find what yoga science referes to as Anandamaya kosha. Ananda means bliss. Beyond this is Atman of the true essential Self. This Self is one with Brahman, and extension of Brahman. Here there is nothing more to say.
What I refer to as the Field of Yoga, it takes all of the above-mentioned into account. When entering into the Field of Yoga you are step by step, layer by layer, penetratingly moving with your attention from the densest physical aspect of your body into the subtlest aspect of your body, and then beyond. Too much or inappropriate attention on the form of yoga asana can keep as stuck at the physical level. Perhaps even more stuck that a regular person who does not known anything about asana or yoga. Our egoic tendencies can become very identified with just how much we know about asana, and just how perfectly one practices the asana, especially in comparison to other people. I’ve met a considerable number of yoga practitioners (some well known, even famous) who to my observtion were stuck in some ways with this very issue.
- Your human form can be viewed in numerous layers. Starting with the physical body, each is more sutble than the next.
- The denser layers emerge out of the subtler layers
- To really derive the benefits of yoga practice it is important to use the form aspect of your practice as a doorway to enter into the formless aspect.
- This is done through appropriate use of breath, and through practicing in such a way that you have as much (if not more) attention on the formless spaciousness in and around your body, as you have on the form of your body and the asana.