by Iva deMartelly
According to the text Bhagavad Gita, the subtle body is composed of mind, intelligence, and ego. The subtle body is an especially interesting subject to consider in the terms of yoga, as these three things are things that control the gross, or physical body which the western world uses as it’s primary tool for practice of Asana. The yogic concept of the subtle body provides a tool to map the connections between the physical and mental aspects of ourselves. These connections can help us choose a yoga practice to best suit our needs and the process of svadyaya (self study) through these energy fields can help us get closer to knowing our true self.
Many energy healers suggest there are actually seven different subtle bodies that act sort of like layers around an onion for the human body. However, within each layer, all of the other subtle bodies are still present and deeply connected. The first layer, or the Etheric Body, is the closest energy body to the physical body and therefore has a close relationship with organ health and tissue. it radiates about an inch from the body and can even be captured by use of advanced infared photography.
The second layer is the Emotional Body, and is connected to emotions. Unlike the etherial body which matches the shape of the body shell, the emotional body is fluid in nature and is deeply related to color. This body can be thought of as many colored clouds that change radiance and hue as the body is subjected to different emotions. Commonly when going through times of confusion, these colors are muddy, and when the body is passionate, angry, or excited they are comprised of radiant hue. Just as the physical body can become ill when exposed to toxins, it is important to take the same caution and care with the emotional body, as a build up of stress and toxic energy can cause similar illness.
The third layer, or the Mental Body holds all of the cognitive thought and process as our brain reasons its way through issues and carries messages to all of the other bodies. The color emitted from the field of this aura is considered to be a yellow color that intensifies as the thoughts become more intense or frequent. Meditation is a valuable tool to focus and strengthen this layer of subtle body.
The fourth layer, or the Astral Level is the true bridge to the spiritual plane, and when considering the other layers is the layer we work with to be able to perceive our spiritual connection and cross the bridge from a physical life to a spiritual one. The astral layer is deeply connected to the heart chakra and the emotions and shares the same range of projected color brilliance as the emotional body. When people fall in love, this body is deeply connected.
The fifth layer is referred to as The Etheric Template Body. This layer has a fascinating concept. It is considered to be the first layer created, and the template for how the physical body itself is formed. Essentially, it is a blueprint map for the soul. before the soul exists. This is a very subtle and hidden aura and is only commonly seen by experienced healers and clairvoyants.
The sixth layer is the Celestial Body and responsible for extreme feelings of bliss and ecstasy. Our divinity resides on this plane, and this is the plane where we are able to feel the interconnectedness of every thing on a divine level. When the awareness is raised in this subtle body, a connection begins to form between the heart chakra and celestial chakra, allowing us pure an unadulterated love for all that surrounds us.
The seventh and final layer is The Ketheric Template, or Casual Body. This is the mental template for the spiritual plane, and this body is made up of all of the other bodies. When we are able to reach this body, we are able to recognize the “oneness” of all things and know our shared divinity. This body generates the Kundalini energy force that is centrifugal to all our bodies.
Each of these bodies contains each of the seven Chakras within it, and when focusing on healing the Chakras it can be useful to focus on one layer at a time and how the energies of the chakras relate to that specific body. The Chakra system is an excellent way of mapping the emotional centers of our bodies. Alternative medicine tells us that the chakras are deeply connected to the endocrine system, although modern medicine will not acknowledge their existence. The seven Chakras, or centers of energy are responsible for the quality and balance of our physical, emotional, and spiritual being. The intention of Chakra energy work is to make sure each center of energy is balanced and unblocked so that your energy may flow freely and uninhibited. Meditation is a wonderful way to balance these energies as is supports the nourishing of the Chakras in a deeply relaxed state.
To assist in reawakening the energy there are many tools the yogi can use. Nadis are subtle energy channels that contain and control the flow of Prana. Chinese Medicine refers to them as “meridians” and they essentially allow the flow of energy within the body. We can find that they are the root of poor health in many cases, and when they are flowing correctly they act as a natural cleansing mechanism for stagnant and stale energy within the body. They are also the channels for the free flow of energy between the chakras. Many breathing exercises, such as Ujjayi and Pranayama can assist in clearing these energy channels.
If you have noticed emotional and spiritual change just from your asana, you can enhance this spirituality with adding in energy work to you practice. A great place to start is simply meditation. You can start out meditating just 15 minutes a day and increase slowly to your comfort level! Meditation is a wonderful way to revitalize your body, gain control over the mind's impulses, and allow the free flow of energy between the chakras.
Happy practicing, both physical and mental!
The Shake It® Team