Yoga and the Brain Day 2: Hi Kelly, it's me, your Shadow.

The Five Koshas

One of the key concepts in my Yoga & Psychology Training that I forgot to mention in part 1 are the Koshas. Each day we explored a Kosha starting with the outermost layer first. Think of Koshas as 5, energetic sheaths, layered one on top of the other, encasing your most authentic self or our soul. Imagine the Koshas are an onion. The outermost layer is the Annamaya Kosha (we talked about on Day 1), made of our bones, skin and physical body.

The next layer, moving inward, is the Pranamaya Kosha, the vital body or energetic layer. If you had a chance to watch the last #BrainCandyQOTW I talked about Prana(energy) as life force energy. In relationship to the body, the Pranamaya kosha is the energy that surrounds our body. The energy we consume makes up this layer. Anything from the air quality we breath, to the television we watch, food we eat, places we go, people we meet, thoughts we generate, traumas and pleasant moments we experience, all make up the Pranamay Kosha.

When we consume nutritious foods we are fueling our Anamaya & Pranamaya Kosha with energy. What minimal byproduct is left we dump (pun totally intended). When we eat high processed foods with low nutritional value, that also fuels (or lack there of) our Anamaya & Pranamaya Koshas. After learning more about the Koshas I started to better understand the reason some people eat organic and live life naturally. I do what I can but no one will ever take away my FRENCH FRIES (or #realitytv, or #sprinkles, or #wine.........) and that is totally O.K.

On Day 2 we explored our Pranamaya Kosha. I was still processing the insights from the day before, Who am I? While meditating and moving in our morning Sadanah and Asanas practices, I actively focused on my Pranamaya body. I began to notice physical sensations, such as restriction in my chest and breath. My shoulders creeping closer and closer to my ears as if I was preparing to defend myself. My feelings of insecurity in wanting to achieve each pose, in an attempt to preserve how everyone thinks and feels about me.

After the practice I realized that I didn't know who I was because I was trying to be what everyone else wants me to be. And as long as I was more concerned with everyone else, I could never truly see myself, my shadow. As difficult as it was to turn and face my own shadow, I was even more fed up with feeding it my Prana(energy). I was no longer numb and blind to my shadow. I was turning toward it and tracking it with my senses, and intuition.

My Shadow

Later that afternoon we had a chance to face our shadow even deeper by writing to it. As if writing about it wasn't difficult enough, we broke up into small groups and encouraged each other to share. I knew this was my time to break through the seal of my shadow, so I did. Throughout this process I saw lurking in the darkness of my shadow was pain, hurt, loss. Anger with having so many questions to ask my mother and no way of getting the answers. It was tough to face but I learned that I blind myself to my power and knowledge and that I am most uncomfortable with feelings of shame and expressions of anger.

Hi Kelly, it's me, your shadow. It wasn't the flashy, bright, sweet taste of ego I was so use to force feeding myself. I realized that the dark shadow is a piece of who I am. I was getting to know ME again, all parts of me and not just the ones that were comfortable to stomach. At this point my shadow was no longer a hungry ghost feeding on my Prana but it was now a vulnerable, open extension of myself needing compassion.

Each day as I continue to discover ME (always a work in progress) I am mindful of my brains old patterns to avoid the discomfort. Instead I recognize and approach the uncomfortable parts (in movement and mind) without judgment. It has even made me a better therapist. I'm not so quick to "make people feel better". What I realize is that we all need space and a container to feel, explore and just be us. All parts.

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