Post-Conference reflections: Feeding the five bodies at the BYC

Well, it was a a kaleidoscope of yoga, joy, soaring voices and good vibes, tender moments (and muscles!), and overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this uplifting and growing gathering of yogis from around the globe.

byc presenters welcome dinner
BYC Presenters’ Welcome Dinner

After seeing Carlota’s post about all the wonderful prana food at this year’s BYC (definitely the best year so far for tasty healthy treats!), it got me to thinking on the yogic concept of the 5 koshas, and how we feed not just our physical body but all our “bodies”, each layer of our being. We feel the effects not just of the food we eat, but also our pranic, mental and spiritual diets too! Because of this, it can help to have a map of these different aspects of our lived experience, to better orient our choices.

So that we’re all on the same page, let me go through them. The yoga tradition posits 5 main koshas:

  • Annamaya kosha: “food body”, our physical body (bones, muscles, organs and the circulation of cells and fluids)
  • Pranamaya kosha: “prana/energy body”, the circulation of energy and breath through our body
  • Manomaya kosha: “mind body”, the circulation of information through the body, emotion, and thought
  • Vijñanamaya kosha: “wisdom body”, the awareness of insight into experience, the rhythmic coherence of circulation in the prior three koshas
  • Anandamaya kosha: “bliss body”, the pure experience of the joy of living in the body, the peace and harmony that is the deepest template of our being
kosha head
A pleasingly psychedelic rendering of the koshas

Reflecting back upon the past few days, it’s clear we fed all these layers of our being at the conference.  The nutritious food that makes up the physical annamaya kosha.  The powerful asana and pranayama practices we were guided through by inspiring teachers like Danny Paradise, Simon Borg-Olivier, Mark Darby and many others, enlivening not only our physical body but our pranic body too. We fed our minds with teachings from the ancient to the contemporary, especially in the more didactic presentations from modern luminaries like Leslie Kaminoff (whose two-day post-conference workshops on therapeutic yoga continues tomorrow).

As I noted in a previous post, a personal highlight for me was the satsang with Godfrey Devereux. There I relished the special simplicity of satsang where the focus is not so much the body or the mind, but to more subtly address the wisdom body, the insight into our own presence.

byc kirtan 2014
The final Bhakti Celebration of BYC 2014, Jai!

And of course, the bliss. Just being there! Singing kirtan, sharing and hugging and laughing with friends old and new. Something special that comes through, that we see building as the BYC grows into itself, as this community of practice, play, stillness and light comes together, again. So… see you all next year  ; )


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