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Some Yoga Basics -
The Three Primary Nadis (energy channels):
1. The Ida Nadi (to the left of the spine, beginning at the base of the spine and ending in the left nostril). Tha (moon) energy - female, receptive, cool, yin. Pinkish in colour. Energy flows mostly downward.
2. The Pingali Nadi (to the right of the spine, beginning at the base of the spine and ending in the right nostril). Ha (sun) energy - male, active, warm, yang. Bluish in colour. Energy flows mostly upward.
3. The Sushumna Nadi (which runs up the center of the spine from the base of the spine to the Ajna Chakra in the third eye between the two brows). The passageway for the Kundalini, the serpent of spiritual energy.
The seven primary Chakras (wheels of spiritual energy):
1. Muladara - at the base of the spine. Physical security and well-being.
2. Swadishtana - in the sex organs. Passion and desire.
3. Manipura - at the naval point. Personal power; self-esteem.
4. Anahata - in the heart. Compassion, love in the global sense.
5. Vishudda - in the throat. Communication; self-expression.
6. Ajna - in the third eye point between the two brows. Transcendental wisdom.
7. Sahasrara - the thousand-pedalled Lotus at the top of the head. Oneness with bliss, God, nirvana, enlightenment.
Five kinds of Prana (breath, spiritual energy):
1. Prana - connected with the Anahata chakra - upward moving vitality - breath.
2. Apana - connected with the Swadishtana chakra - downward moving vitality - process of elimination.
3. Dsana - connected with the Vishudda chakra - vitality of glandular secretion.
4. Samana - connected with the Manipura chakra - vitality of digestion.
5. Vyana - connected with the Aura chakra - balance.
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The Five Akoshas and the Three Bodies.
The soul creates three bodies in order to create karma (Labeled 1 through 3 below):
1. The Sthula Sharira, The Physical Body,
2. The Sukshma Sarira, the Astral Body and
3. The Karana Sarira, the Causal Body
These three bodies contain the Five Akoshas, or sheathes (labeled A through E below):
1. The Physical Body (Sthula Sharira) - Contains (A) the Anamaya Kosha - the Food Sheathe.
2. The Astral Body (Sukshma Sarira) - Contains
(B). the Pranamaya Kosha - the Vitality Sheathe.
(C). the Manomay Kosha - the sheathe of the lower or subconsciousness.
(D). and the Vjnanamaya Kosha - the sheathe of the higher consciousness, where spiritual and artistic inspiration come through.
3. The Causal Body (Karana Sarira)- Contains (E)the Anandamaya Kosha - the Sheathe of Bliss, the highest level.
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These three bodies are represented in the three lower sections of the Aum, or Pranava of Yoga. The largest, lowest arc is the physical body, the line extending to the right in between the lower and upper arc is the astral body and the upper, smaller arc is the causal body. For a description of the upper part of the Aum, they are explained further in the following section on the Granthis.
The Three Granthis
The Granthis are considered to be knots that the Kundalini must untie in order to continue her journey from the base of the spine to the Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head, so she can meet and mate with her master, Lord Shiva and culminate the path of spiritual fulfillment. The Shiva/Sakti relationship in Tantra is represented roughly as the Prakriti/Purusha relationship in classical Yoga. Prakriti is nature; Purusha is consciousness. This is similar to Yin and Yang in the Chinese system of Tao. [See also the section on Tantric Yoga.]
The Brahma Grantha is between the Manipura Chakra and the Anahata Chakra. It is the knot of worldly attachments.
The Vishnu Grantha is between the Anahata Chakra and the Vishudda Chakra. It is the knot of the attachment to global compassion. This too, must be untied in order to reach enlightenment.
The Rudra Grantha is between the Vishudda Chakra and the Ajna Chakra. This is the knot of attachment to everything. This is often thought of as the Medulla Oblonghata, or lizard brain. This is our lower thought processes, where the seat of illusion rests. This must be pierced through by the Kundalini in order to attain transcendental awareness.
This "realm of illusion," or "Maya" ("Mara" in Buddhism) is represented visually in the Pranava (the Aum sign) as the semi-circular horizontal slash near the top of the design. The dot above that on the Pranava is the Bindu, representing the Ajna Chakra, or seat of transcendental awareness. In the human body, this is the mid point between and just above the two eyebrows. Behind this point lies the pineal gland, often called the "master gland".
Rudra is another (very ancient) word for Shiva. One can see that the three Granthis are named after the three primary gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the gods of creation, preservation and redemption. Maya is the god of illusion. The Bindu, or dot at the top, is called, Turiya. Turiya is explained further in the following section on the four states of consciousness.