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Yoga of the Subtle Body - Book Review

CYA-E-RYT400. Yoga Wellness Educator. Certified to teach Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Pilates. I love to write.

The Play of Energy

The Play of Energy

A guide to the Physical and Energetic Anatomy of Yoga

Tias Little is the author and writer of the Yoga of the Subtle Body – A guide to the Physical and Energetic Anatomy of Yoga book. He is known as a leading yoga instructor in North America and has taught globally. His amassed knowledge of classical yoga, Sanskrit, Buddhism, anatomy, massage and trauma healing are noticeable in this book.

This book is my bible in the study of yoga of the subtle body. It has one of the most interesting perspectives on yoga concepts and practice that I have ever read or heard.

I came to learn of this book while reading another one. The title intrigued me, so I borrowed it as an eBook from the public library. After reading the first two chapters, I purchased a print copy for myself and started studying the subject matter in depth. Many of my lingering questions were answered.

His writing is simple yet his deep knowledge is presented with mastery. He brings together the mystery of the east and the knowledge of the west, presented in an unpretentious manner. The book includes several yoga poses that describe how to target different areas of the body for different purposes. The meditation practices are insightful and inspiring. The effect of practising the yoga poses and the meditation while placing attention in line with his guidelines feels like a breath of fresh air.

The descriptions of the poses and meditation practices are clear and to the point. But, the subtlety of the relationship between the mind and the body is not lost in the explanations. The subtle body is treated as the sacred and boundless body of pure consciousness, intelligence and compassion. Pure intelligence, pure consciousness or unbounded awareness is a complete internal and external attention with no soul-searching or thought.

I am one of the yoga people who believe that yoga practice becomes meditation in action when it is done with mindfulness and attention.

Subtle Body

Richard Freeman, a well-known yoga author and writer, wrote the foreword to this book. I appreciate the way he puts it when he says, “The subtle body is not only the secret to the optimal functioning and alignment of the body; it is the key to delight, love, understanding, and good relationships.”

The word ‘subtle’ suggests a style that is complex but delicate and discreet. The subtle body is about the body and the mind. It is the relationship between spirituality and the mind. Yoga is about relationships —our relationship with our body, our mind, and our emotions. Yoga is also about our relationship with others, the environment, the world and the universe.

For T. Little “metaphorical thinking allows for greater flexibility, imagination, and openness...” That is why the expression “subtle body” is used. What we ought to avoid in yoga is allowing our personal practice of become automatic and disciplined, which usually come from having a routine. Studying and examining the subtle body can be likened to ’cultivating a garden where strange plants grow and mysteries bloom.’

Savasana or the Corpse Pose

T. Little gives the example of the ‘corpse’ pose or Savasana. In this pose, your body rests horizontally and completely supported, so you can reach a state of deep stillness.

Letting go in Savasana means a spiritual death (thus the word corpse) not a physical one.

In a spiritual death, all signs of a self that is limited by personal identity diminish to a point where you experience boundlessness and peace.

Boundlessness is the quality of being infinite, without bound or limitations —a complete and total freedom.

Practice:

  1. Lie down on your back on a soft but firm floor support like a yoga mat or a blanket.
  2. Exhale fully several times and let your weight drop into the floor and into the ground.
  3. Inhale into your back ribs and feel them expand against the floor.
  4. Sense your pranic sheath (Pranamaya kosha). Notice if you are tired, bloated, restless, heavy or distracted.
  5. Scan your body for any physical sensation or any tingling or pulsation.
  6. Stay for ten minutes before slowly rolling to your side to sit up.

By developing sensitivity to even minor sensations, you will be able to attune to the subtle body.

Yoga for the Subtle Body

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.